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La Verne protects foothills

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Yelena Ovcharenko
Assistant Editor

The La Verne Land Conservancy received a 5.1 million state grant last week for the restoration and preservation of approximately 271 acres in the foothills above La Verne.

La Verne Land Conservancy, in partnership with the San Gabriel Mountain Regional Conservancy, plans to make the land accessible to the community. Hiking trails, recreational parks, flood control and wildlife corridors are among the components of the conservation project.

The proposed stretch of land is below the Angeles National Forest between San Dimas Canyon Road and the Marshall Canyon Golf Course.

“This is a little piece in a large puzzle that is going to improve our community,” said Dan Merritt, professor of zoology at the University of La Verne and member of La Verne Land Conservancy.

Speaking at a recent city council meeting, Merritt recalled the vast grass plains and orange groves here in 1969, when he first moved to La Verne. It has been difficult, he said, to watch housing tracts strip the untamed land of its natural habitat that once offered a connection with the wilderness.

As the forestry near La Verne began to vanish, residents started to petition for land preservation and started the La Verne Land Conservancy in 2002.

Since then, it has been the purpose of the La Verne Land Conservancy to buy land and preserve it in its natural state.

With the majority of the property owners with land in the stretch in agreement, La Verne Land Conservancy President Katherine Winsor announced the launch of phase two: completion of the Marshall County Corridor.

The corridor serves as the natural habitat for bobcats, squirrels and birds among other animals.

In order to benefit the community, the Land Conservancy plans to create hiking trails and recreational areas. This will provide an adventure through a forest that is easily accessible and will efficiently preserve the land in its natural habitat.

Local residents will have the option of escaping the buzz of the city for the countryside only miles away.

Conservancy member Michael Sanchez said that it is imperative for the conservancy to be consistent with protecting and benefiting neighbors in the area.

After several mudslides on Golden Hills Road and other flooding problems in the area, the Conservancy started to apply for grants.

The Conservancy also asked the city council to endorse a letter of support for the state Wildlife Conservation Board grant that will permit the Conservancy to preserve private properties as open space.

“This is sort of a work in progress,” Winsor said, regarding the conceptual area protection plan.

Even though, at times things seem to move at a slow pace, Winsor is convinced that La Verne Land Conservancy is making progress at the speed of light. Usually this process takes much longer with negotiations and paper work.

The city has worked cooperatively with Land Conservancy and is considering donating 150 acres of city-owned property in support of the Conservancy’s restoration project.

In May 2003 the City Council endorsed and provided a letter of support for the State Wildlife Conservation Board grant to acquire and preserve private properties as open space.

“I think it’s marvelous,” La Verne Mayor Jon Blickenstaff said as he commended the Conservancy for its diligent work at the city council meeting on Feb. 22.

Yelena Ovcharenko can be reached at yovhcarenko@ulv.edu.

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