Many local, regional, state, and federal agencies have demonstrated an interest in helping to protect this hillside system.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE (CDFW)
This state agency acquires land in our region under special circumstances. For example, it may acquire or take title to important habitat endangered by a specific development. Funds from voter approved park bond acts are often allocated by the Wildlife Conservation Board, the acquisition arm of this state agency.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION (DPR)
This state agency acquires land near its state park boundaries. As a trustee agency of the State it is also interested in preserving the long-term health of its parks.
With over 14,000 acres, Chino Hills State Park is the largest single protected area within the Wildlife Corridor. A permanent staff maintains park functions and works to restore parklands to encourage native species. For further information, call 951-780-6222 or visit the Chino Hills State Park website.
CITY OF WHITTIER
This City is buying land because the residents of Whittier have made it clear that they cherish their hillside backdrop. Through various County Bond Acts, the City has purchased over 1,700 acres in its jurisdiction for a total of about $15,086,500.
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES
Los Angeles County owns and operates the 600-acre Schabarum Park. The Park has both an active park area as well as substantial wilderness areas. For more information, visit the Schabarum Regional Park website.
PUENTE HILLS HABITAT PRESERVATION AUTHORITY (HABITAT AUTHORITY)
The Habitat Authority is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) that acquires, restores, and manages open space in the Puente Hills in order to preserve it for future generations and to protect the diversity of plants and animals that are found there. The agency also provides opportunities for outdoor education and low-impact recreation. For more information, call 562-945-900.
- Funding Source
The Habitat Authority was created in 1994 as a condition of the landfill’s official operating permit. The Authority is funded with a surcharge of a two-dollar-per-ton “tipping” fee. This fee is mitigation for the expansion of the landfill.
- Tipping fees
When the landfill was in operation over $3 million dollars per year was collected for this open space fund. In most years the landfill took in 3,500,000 tons of trash. However, recently across Southern California, and the state, landfill operators are observing about a 10% decrease in tonnages. This decrease also occurred at the Puente Hills Landfill. The landfill was permitted until November 2013. The landfill is now closed.
The fund was established to purchase, maintain, and restore wilderness habitat in the vicinity of the landfill. The Habitat Authority’s jurisdiction stretches from the 605 Freeway to the eastern city boundary of La Habra Heights at Harbor Blvd. These fees paid for the acquisition, at fair market value, of a number of properties, such as Powder Canyon and other parcels in La Habra Heights, Sycamore Canyon in Los Angeles County, and some of the other properties in the hills of Hacienda Heights.
The early focus of the Authority has been to acquire the most critical lands before they are developed. Since that phase is nearing completion, the Board has expanded programs for education of children and adults about our wilderness areas and their natural wonders. In addition, restoration of lands that have been disturbed by oil development and by grazing is a high priority. This will help reduce the risk of fire and maximize the native habitat for wildlife. Finally, trails and access points have been created to encourage safe movement by hikers and equestrian users.
Members of the JPA include the City of Whittier, Los Angeles County, the Hacienda Heights Improvement Association (appointed by the Supervisor of the 4th District), and the Los Angeles Sanitation Districts.
- Role of the Public
The public is invited to listen and to give input to the Citizen’s Technical Advisory Committee of the Habitat Authority. All Citizen’s Technical Advisory Committee meetings are held monthly, the first Tuesday of the month at Whittier City Hall. Habitat Authority Board of Director’s meetings are held monthly, the fourth Thursday of the month, at the Los Angeles County Sanitation District offices.
Approximately 300 acres more need to be preserved.
- Land Management
The Authority contracts with the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA) to provide ranger services, brush clearing, trail construction, fire protection, and related activities for all of the wilderness lands within its jurisdiction. The Habitat Authority manages its land and other open space lands owned by the City of Whittier and the Sanitation Districts.
- Use of Open Space
Property purchased by the Habitat Authority can only be used as wilderness open space. Facilities necessary to service the lands (such as ranger quarters, nature centers, etc.) can be built, but must go through the local jurisdiction’s permit process.
- Future Management
To assure the continuous management, the Board has committed itself to establishing an “endowment fund.” This fund will contain about $10,000,000 which will allow the earnings on the fund to more than adequately provide for all ongoing services needed on the properties (e.g., brush clearing, trail maintenance, nature studies, rangers, etc.) in perpetuity.
- After Closure of the Landfill
After closure, the Habitat Authority has two years to transfer its holdings to an appropriate public agency. Most likely the transfer will be to another park agency such as State Parks, a park district, L.A. County Parks or the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy.
SAN GABRIEL AND LOWER LOS ANGELES RIVERS AND MOUNTAINS CONSERVANCY (RMC)
This is one of the newer state conservancies. Its jurisdiction includes the watershed of the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers – this includes the lands from Tonner Canyon on the east near Brea over to the San Gabriel River on the east near Whittier. From Carbon Canyon eastward, the hills are in the Santa Ana River watershed.
SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS CONSERVANCY (SMMC)
This state conservancy acts as staff to the Wildlife Corridor Conservation Authority. The Conservancy became involved through an earlier partnership with Whittier.
WILDLIFE CORRIDOR CONSERVATION AUTHORITY (WCCA)
WCCA, formed in 1996, is another Joint Powers Authority (JPA) created to permanently connect the remaining open space in the Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor for present and future generations. By working together the member agencies hope to protect the remaining open space as a regional community asset. WCCA has provided an oversight function and catalyst for determining acquisition needs throughout the Corridor. For more information, call Judi Tamasi at 310-589-3200 x 121.
- Governing Board
The Board is composed of the Cities of Whittier, La Habra Heights, Diamond Bar, and Brea, Los Angeles County, as well as three State Agencies: the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The latter agency provides staff for WCCA. In addition, two public members are appointed by the Board. Where necessary, WCCA works with local, state, and national organizations to preserve, though acquisition, the most vital properties.
- Advisory Board
The Governing and Advisory Boards meet as needed in either Brea or Whittier. Neither the Governing or Advisory Board members get paid. Their work is completely voluntary.
HILLSIDE OPEN SPACE EDUCATION COALITION (HOSEC)
This Coalition is not a formal Joint Powers Authority but it is nevertheless governed by public meeting laws and codes. The cross-county coalition was formed in 2006 with the mission to advance the long-standing and unwavering goal to preserve and acquire open space in the hills bordering Los Angeles and Orange Counties in order to safeguard the environment, maintain high quality of life, and reduce traffic congestion. Members include the unincorporated communities of Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights and the cities of Brea, La Habra, La Habra Heights, and Whittier.