Santa Susana Pass park to stay open another year
March 23, 2012
Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park - an important wildlife corridor that provided the red sandstone backdrop for westerns such as "Bonanza" - will stay open for another year.
The 670-acre Chatsworth park was slated to close July 1 because of state budget cuts, but can remain open as a result of a donation announced Thursday from the California State Parks Foundation.
The donation marks the first time the foundation has supported a park without a matching grant.
"I am just overjoyed," said John Luker, president of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Santa Susana Mountains.
Luker's organization has rallied to save the park, meeting with local officials and trying to find funding to prevent closure.
Late last year, a San Fernando Valley family anonymously donated $150,000 to keep open Los Encinos State Historic Park, a field trip location for thousands of Valley schoolchildren learning about California history
The Encino and Chatsworth parks - the only state parks in the Valley that are among 70 threatened with closure in July - share staff. Because of that relationship, the larger private grant to Los Encinos was a "catalyst" for the donation to Santa Susana, California State Parks Foundation spokeswoman Alexis Stoxen said.
It's also fairly cheap to keep Santa Susana open, costing the foundation only a $21,000 donation to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, in part because there are no rangers stationed at the park.
The funding will give Luker's group another year to raise money to keep Santa Susana open for longer - or allow time for the state budget situation to improve so that cuts to the state parks systems are restored.
Stoxen said the foundation chose Santa Susana because it seemed especially vulnerable to closure compared to other parks across California.
"We were looking at the parks and saying: `Which one of these don't look like somebody is going to step up?"' Stoxen said.
The donation from the nonprofit, member-supported foundation will pay for the same services Santa Susana has now - a daily ranger visit and basic maintenance.
The park is located where the Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains meet. An 8,000-year-old trail through the park was used by native Tongva and Chumash tribes before being turned into a wider but precipitous stagecoach road.
New fencing and brush clearance are part an effort to improve an entrance to Santa Susana Pass Historic State Park.
April 4, 2013
The Andora entrance to Santa Susana Pass Historic State Park recently got a facelift thanks to archaeologist Barbara Tejeda who helped secure funding.
"This little-known gateway to the park lies immediately adjacent (south side) of Oakwood Cemetery and is a favorite among enthusiasts because of the oak-lined path gracing the trail before opening up to the broad panoramic expanse of the Simi Hills," said Elizabeth Harris of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Santa Susana Mountains.
The California Department of Recreation and Parks completed the project, which entailed replacing chain link fencing with a rustic western-style, trail brushing, improved drainage and trail widening.
Harris added that if any high school students are seeking community service hours, they can volunteer at the state park. Volunteer training is being held on June 29 from 1-5 p.m. Interested individuals can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.