September 22, 2017

Mt Baldy Wilderness Preserve Dedicated 

AZUSA, Cal. — Today the Watershed Conservation Authority and The Conservation Fund held a dedication event celebrating the protection of the long-coveted “Mt Baldy Ranch” in the Angeles National Forest. Established with the support of the U.S. Forest Service and with a State of California Proposition 84 California River Parkways Program grant, the Mt Baldy Wilderness Preserve provides access to public trails, scenic vistas, watershed preservation, and protection for important wildlife corridors and sensitive habitat.

In attendance at the celebration were Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger; California Natural Resource Agency Chief of Bonds and Grants Polly Escovedo; Enrique Robles, Deputy District Director for U.S. Representative Judy Chu (CA-27); Lewis Murray, District Representative for San Bernardino County Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford; Matthew Lyons, Deputy District Director for Assemblymember Chris Holden; Janet Chin, Watershed Conservation Authority Board Chair and a delegate for Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis; representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, the Rivers and Mountain Conservancy, local environmental groups, and non-profit organizations; as well as members of the community.

The Conservation Fund negotiated the purchase of the property, which had long been prioritized for preservation due to its substantial breadth of public and natural resources. The national environmental nonprofit donated the property to the Watershed Conservation Authority (WCA), a joint powers authority within the region which focuses on working with nature to improve watershed health, increase access to open space and enhance habitat for the benefit of both wildlife and people throughout the watersheds of the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers.

“The key location of the property along San Antonio Creek and contiguous to thousands of acres of protected open space and a diverse range of wildlife, habitat and public trails within the Angeles National Forest made it a prime candidate for conservation acquisition,” notes Derek Ostensen with The Conservation Fund. “Today’s celebration highlights the partnership that ensured this special place would be preserved forever, adding much needed green space for the benefit of people and wildlife.”

Located off Mt Baldy Road, in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, the property forms a junction between the Sheep Mountain Wilderness, Cucamonga Wilderness and the San Dimas Experimental Forest, all of which are considered vital habitat areas within the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests. Mt Baldy Wilderness Preserve features an array of sensitive environments, including riparian corridors, pine forest and chaparral that cover the lower slopes, which provide habitat for a rich diversity of wildlife, including Nelson bighorn sheep, deer, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, as well as rainbow and brown trout.

“The opportunity to preserve such a significant natural and scenic resource as open space for all fits perfectly with our Agency’s vision of Connecting Communities through Nature,” notes Debbie Enos, Deputy Executive Officer of the Watershed Conservation Authority. “Through the collective efforts of all involved in the acquisition, critical wildlife corridors and public trail access to the Angeles National Forest are preserved for the benefit of current and future generations. Our Agency is also very grateful to our Mt Baldy neighbors for their on-going support and volunteerism on the property.”

Several popular hiking trails, including the Sunset Ridge Trail and access trails to the Sheep Mountain and Cucamonga Wilderness Trail, offer visitors spectacular vistas of the surrounding forest, the Los Angeles basin and all the way to Catalina Island.

“Conservation of California’s wildlands is paramount to the mission of the California Natural Resources Agency,” said California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird. “The Mt. Baldy Ranch acquisition helps to protect wildlife species from the impacts of climate change by preserving a key wildlife corridor between Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests. The acquisition also protects water resources, native plant communities, and ecosystems in a key section of San Antonio Creek.”

“Today, we celebrate the preserving of treasured open space for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike while protecting the integrity of the habitat and water resources within this wilderness preserve,” said Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “I look forward to exploring additional opportunities to enhance the land through shared investment in amenities and trail access improvements.”

The creation of the Mt Baldy Wilderness Preserve complements the regional goals put forth by the Emerald Necklace Forest to Ocean Expanded Vision Plan for Los Angeles County, which aims to expand the vision of the original Emerald Necklace across the county. This green infrastructure-based plan, developed by The Conservation Fund and Amigos de los Rios, creates a common vision and strategic guide to create a network of parks and public open spaces connected by river greenways and trails from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

About the Watershed Conservation Authority
At the Watershed Conservation Authority, we serve diverse communities by fulfilling our vision of Connecting Communities through Nature through the conservation and preservation of open space and enhancing access to parks and trails within our territory. By working with nature in our plans and projects we seek to enhance local water resources, native plant habitats, wildlife, and to advance the overall quality of life in both our natural and urban communities. The WCA, established in 2003, is a local public entity of the State of California exercising joint powers of the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. WCA manages both wilderness open space and urban river parkways totaling more than 376 acres.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect nearly 8 million acres of land. 

Derek Ostensen | The Conservation Fund | 949-683-4683 |
Deborah Enos | Watershed Conservation Authority | 626-815-1019 |