King Gillette Ranch Visitor Center Public Comment Period Open
The National Park Service announced today that it has prepared an environmental assessment (EA) for the proposed construction and operation of the Anthony C. Beilenson Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas, CA. The public comment period will be open through March 15, 2010. The National Park Service seeks broad public participation in the review of this document.
The vision to establish an environmental and cultural education center at King Gillette Ranch in the geographic heart of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) has been discussed for many years. Implementing part of this vision by establishing a full-service visitor center at King Gillette Ranch is now under way. The proposed interagency visitor center would fulfill the long-running need of the national recreation area to have a centrally located, full-service visitor center similar to visitor centers at national parks throughout the country.
King Gillette Ranch was purchased from Soka University in 2005 with funds from eleven different funding sources in an almost unprecedented partnership of federal, State, and local government agencies, and private donors. The ranch is now owned by Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, National Park Service, and California Department of Parks and Recreation. One of the most stunning locales in the Santa Monica Mountains, the biologically diverse parkland contains broad meadows and low ridgelines, valley and coast live oak savannah, grassland, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and riparian woodland. Park features include several structures from razor baron King Camp Gillette's 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival country estate. The park is enjoyed daily by hikers, birders, picnickers and school children. Public interpretive programs are offered regularly.
The proposed visitor center is part of a larger planning process for King Gillette Ranch. The overarching plan for the 588-acre property, referred to as the King Gillette Ranch Design Concept Plan, would address trail connections and use designation, management zoning and prescriptions for education and administration and natural areas, and would identify uses for each of the existing buildings.
Public scoping for the overarching Design Concept Plan took place in late 2008. Additional public scoping specific to the visitor center was held in September, 2009. All compliance related to the visitor center was originally going to be included in the Design Concept Plan for the entire King Gillette Ranch. However, the complexity of the visitor center project and related funding requirements necessitated a separate in-depth compliance document for the visitor center. This is the document that is now available for public comment. The larger King Gillette Ranch Design Concept Plan will be available for public review in late 2010.
The EA describes the proposed visitor center facilities and development and analyzes potential impacts on a variety of environmental conditions, including natural and cultural resources, visitor experience, accessibility, traffic, aesthetics, and several other topics.
Copies of the EA are available for review at the following locations:
· Online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/samo
· CDs and a limited number of hardcopies of the document are available upon request. Please call or visit the National Park Service Visitor Center, 805-370-2301, 401 W. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA, 91360-4207 (open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
· Agoura Hills Library, 29901 Ladyface Court, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
· Calabasas Public Library, 200 Civic Center Way, Calabasas, CA 91302
· Malibu Library, 23519 West Civic Center Way, Malibu, CA 90265
· Santa Monica Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA [90xxx]
· Thousand Oaks Library, 1401 Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
HOW TO COMMENT
Superintendent Woody Smeck
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
401 West Hillcrest Dr.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
For more information concerning this EA, please contact Melanie Beck, Outdoor Recreation Planner, at (805) 370-2346.
Did You Know?
Piece by piece, a trail is forging its way along the "backbone" of the recreation area. California State Parks took the first step toward a 65-mile Backbone Trail in 1978. With 5 miles left to go, single track trails and fireroads will unite this patchwork of public parklands from east to west.