Editorial, Saturday, December 8, 2001 Peninsula News --
Preservation Begins and Ends with Community
The stars seem aligned for conservationist in Rancho Palos Verdes. Recent news that state and federal agencies wIll back a plan to preserve hundreds of acres of open space has been encouraging for city officials and local environmental groups. This comes on the heels of the City Council's decision not to allow golf on Upper Point Vicente Park, the city's purchase of Barkentine and Forrestal canyons, and local land barons' willingness to sell their properties -- albeit at an inflated price. These are all good signs that the dream of a huge land preserve on the Peninsula may become a reality. Now comes the hard part.
If the city is to purchase 700 acres of open space in Portugese Bend from landowners, it must look for millions in public funds to do so. Short of winning the lottery, city representatives must count on backing from higher powers at the State Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lend support for obtaining money to fund such a purchase.
Those federal and state officials seem to believe that the preservation and continued management of open space in RPV will fit best under the Natural Communities Conservation Planning program. If that is truly the case, as members of the city's planning department and PVP Land Consevancy believe, the Peninsula News supports the city's renewed effort to construct and complete an NCCP. Completion of such would ensure that a contiguous swath of open space exists in perpetuity, not only for residents and visitors to enjoy, but for the benefit of endangered plant and animal species whose unique habitats are vanishing far too quickly in Southern California.
By entering into an NCCP, it is possible that everyone will come out a winner. The environmental agencies will feel secure knowing threatened species have a permanent home. City officials will acquire a federally approved take permit, which will make needed repairs and maintenance projects in biologically sensitive areas less costly and time-consuming. Landowners will have areas designated for them to pursue what they do best: build.
But the best thing that could happen should an NCCP be successful is that the average Joe -- you, me, our kids and grandkids -- will have hundreds of acres of unspoiled coastal land to enjoy. The land can serve as an outdoor classroom, a place to enjoy a peaceful stroll or a spot to meditate when the world around us seems crazy.
The Peninsula News asks that the community not only supports open space, but this preserve and NCCP plan in particular. This support can come in many forms, from donating money to getting our hands dirty when the replanting begins.
Remember, despite all of the parties involved in the NCCP process, ultimately the land that will be preserved belongs to the community. Therefore, it is our obligation, as owners, to care for the land. That is the true meaning of conservation.