Groups scramble for 11th-hour purchase of Soka parcel

  • Posted on 28 February 2005
  • By Chapter Reports

A critical deadline has been reached in the campaign to save the Soka property in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has optioned the 588-acre property for $35 million, but the option will expire if the full amount is not paid by April 15, and the property will be sold to the highest bidder.

Although the Soka parcel was once rated as the top Santa Monica Mountains acquisition priority by the National Park Service, neither the Bush administration nor Congress has showed any interest in helping fund the purchase; instead the cost is being borne by a combination of several state and local government agencies, local cities, and private donors.

The Angeles Chapter's Santa Monica Mountains Task Force (SMMTF) has contributed $2,000 toward the purchase.

Three state agencies, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, the Wildlife Conservation Board, and the Coastal Conservancy, are currently holding hearings to decide if they will allocate a total of $14 million toward the purchase of the land. How these agencies decide will determine whether the Soka property will be saved.

SMMTF has long said this property would be an excellent location for a visitor and education center for the national recreation area they helped to create.

Chapter members are needed to attend the hearings or write letters in support. If you want more information on how you can help, call SMMTF chair Mary Ann Webster at 310-559-3126 or SMMTF conservation chair Dave Brown at 818-889-0356.

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