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Whitney Canyon Obtained

Newhall: The 442 acres, purchased by Santa Clarita and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, will be used for recreation.

July 24, 2002|STEPHANIE STASSEL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Whitney Canyon, 442 pristine acres in Newhall once considered for an off-road vehicle park and a housing subdivision, was purchased Tuesday by the city of Santa Clarita and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for public hiking and mountain bike riding.

Developer Ray Watt and his partners in Whitney Ranch Associates were paid $4.89 million for the land with funds from the state, the city of Santa Clarita and Proposition 12, the $2.1-billion parks bond approved by voters in 2000.

The property, at the end of San Fernando Road, abuts the western boundary of the Angeles National Forest.

"We're very excited," said Rick Gould, Santa Clarita's director of parks, recreation and community services. "One of the city's goals is to create a greenbelt around the city and this is a huge link in that system.

"It's a gorgeous piece of property. From the ridgeline, there is a dramatic view of the Santa Clarita Valley."

Recently used for ranching, some old buildings will be removed and areas cleared in a couple of months to give access to hikers, mountain bikers and picnickers, said Joseph Edmiston, executive director of the conservancy. A public hearing will be held to discuss other possible uses for the canyon, such as an equestrian center.

In 1988, Los Angeles County officials considered building an off-road vehicle park in the canyon, a plan that met with stiff opposition by area residents. Later, Watt considered--and then decided not to--build houses on the property.

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