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Support federal Wilderness Bill to preserve SCV

Local Commentary

Posted: May 19, 2008 6:39 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2008 5:03 a.m.
In my teenage years my parents decided to move to Los Angeles.

Having seen the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara and the luscious trees of Beverly Hills in soap operas, I was expecting to be blown away by California's nature.

Instead, I was horrified when I was met by a gray and dusty city. Since that time I have been trying to find a place where I could escape the noise and dirt of streets but still be close to my family and friends.

I found that place here in Valencia. Santa Clarita has it all. Great community, beautiful houses, clean streets and well-maintained landscape.

I enjoy hiking in the local mountains, picnicking with my family near the lakes and walking with my dog in the parks.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that I live in the district of a very involved congressman. Having been born and raised in the Soviet Union, I wasn't used to seeing politicians who cared so much about the people, much less about saving nature for future generations.

When we were kids, we used to go to the woods to look for the leftovers from World War II. Bullets, old guns and explosives were the focus of our treasure hunts.

There were no protections of any kind, no protected natural areas, and no maintained hiking trails. If you felt like going out and cutting a tree, you could go, and no one would stop you.

There aren't many rules or regulations today, either. Having so many acres of beautiful woods, people neglect them. They don't think that they need to take care of them.

But nothing lasts forever if it's not taken care of. Trees won't grow back by themselves, and extinct species won't magically reappear.

I'm glad that rangers and environmental organizations educate people about the wilderness in the U.S. I hope that local folks know about and support the wilderness bill that was proposed by Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon.

It will help to protect local areas like Magic Mountain, Pleasant View Ridge and Piru Creek. These areas have sensitive plants and wildlife species.

One of the proposed protected areas, Magic Mountain, is home to rare California condors. One of the only other places where you can find these nearly-extinct birds is the Grand Canyon.

Other unique wild places that I would love to see protected by Rep. McKeon's bill include: the Hoover Wilderness and its beautiful West Walker River; the Upper Owens River and the wild trout that occupy it; the White Mountains and their ancient bristlecone pines; and the Amargosa River, which I had a chance of visiting this year.

This rare desert river is an ancient stream, following an antecedent canyon. Here evidence of human habitation goes back approximately 10,000 years to the end of the last Ice Age, when the area was much wetter.

The canyon floor along the Amargosa Range has remnants of indigenous habitation. And even though the water, called "bitter water" by the Spanish, is non-potable by humans, it is a critical source of water for the wildlife in this area.

I am very grateful that Congressman McKeon is working on a bill that will protect these beautiful wild places and rivers.

It is so important. I hope that other residents in Santa Clarita are grateful, too.

Olga Beketova is a Santa Clarita Valley resident. Her column reflects her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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