California's South Coast foothills named one of Scenic America's 1999 "Last Chance Landscapes"

provided by Scenic America

ast month, Scenic America, a national conservation organization, released a report naming California's South Coast foothills one of its twelve Last Chance Landscapes. These endangered landscapes are places of beauty or distinctive community character with both a pending threat and potential solution.

"As millions of Americans head home for the holidays, many will find that home isn't what it used to be. Our everyday landscapes and scenic vistas are rapidly disappearing," said Meg Maguire, President of Scenic America.

Maquire said that unplanned growth is overrunning rural landscapes and draining America's cities and towns. New and poorly designed roads and strip malls are paving over farmland and historic sites; billboards litter the nation's roadsides, and wireless communication towers puncture communities and scenic vistas.

Located between Los Angeles and San Diego, the area includes the San Onofre State Beach, the San Mateo Creek wetlands nature preserve and the Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy. It is the last fully intact coastal watershed south of Ventura, California. Nine federally endangered or threatened species live here and the area is known for its world-class biodiversity.

Ten Native American sites, including three burial grounds and several villages, also lie in the path of a proposed toll road. The Transportation Corridor Agency plans to build a 16-mile private toll road through this beautiful and fragile environment. The threatened landscape can be saved by enforcement of the federal Endangered Species Act and passage of state legislation that would establish a stringent process to review road construction on California State Park Lands.

"The polls show overwhelmingly that Americans want to save natural beauty, protect open space and live in well designed communities," said Maguire, referring to over 200 ballot initiatives to protect open space that voters approved within the last year. "People everywhere need to look around, identify what they love and demand better scenic conservation and land use practices as their communities grow."

Scenic America is a national nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, whose mission is to preserve natural beauty and distinctive community character. Since 1978, Scenic America has helped citizens and public officials in thousands of communities nationwide protect their scenic heritage. Scenic America advocates for federal, state and local laws and policies that support scenic conservation and community livability.

Contact: Mary Houser, Communications Manager (202) 543-6200.