Seeking input for a plan that would put the so-called Rim of the Valley under federal protection, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) hosted a town hall forum this week that drew about 150 people.

The area roughly includes the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo valleys. It includes the watershed portion of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Verdugo Mountains, Arroyo Seco Corridor, the Santa Monica Mountains and the Simi hills.

Schiff, a champion of 2008 federal legislation directing the Park Service to study the area, said at the Wednesday event that work is nearly completed and a final report should be presented to Congress before the end of the year.

“We’re hoping to get a reaffirmation on the public’s interest in preserving the open space,” Schiff said before the meeting at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA. “But also how they would like to see the Rim of the Valley, either incorporated into the Santa Monica Recreation Area or part of its own, autonomous park.”

Panel speakers joining Schiff at the forum included Park Service project manager Anne Dove, Joe Edmiston, president of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and David Rossman of the Wilderness Society and chair of San Gabriel Mountains Forever.

Edmiston said an increasing population may create a “stampede of people saying, ‘we need to recreate. We need open space.’”

Former state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino of La Cañada Flintridge, who introduced Schiff to the crowd, stressed the importance of preserving some of the last wild areas in Southern California.

“Obviously, the foothill communities are special because they’re foothill communities,” Portantino said. “To have multiple agencies working together to figure out the best preservation and use of our foothills is important for all the residents.”

Schiff said the process is far from over.

“During the course of the study, public comment is solicited. Then a draft is proposed. Then public comment on the draft is solicited. Then a final report is issued,” Schiff said. “And if you think the final report is the end of the story, no, that’s purely advisory.”

For more information on the study, visit www.nps.gov/sangabriel.

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Follow Tim Traeger on Twitter: @TraegerTim.

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