Posted by: Christina Walsh
Save history, save wildlife habitat corridor, and save precious and sacred cultural resources and provide a way to share it with future generations.
Santa Susana Field Laboratory has been the topic of controversy and division for our communities for a very long time, perhaps decades for some. None of us come to this or any other issue as a blank slate, filled with pre-conceived ideas, previous reports, documents and rumors heard. Literally, a mountain of information to navigate about this site that is special to so many people for different reasons:
- Some love the nature, the unique rock formations that make Chatsworth and the Simi Hills so special.
- Others love the rocket history or better yet, were PART of that rocket history that allowed this country to seek beyond earthly boundaries and actually set sights on leaving this world to explore the moon and beyond. Today there is serious work being done to bring humans to Mars. That journey began at Santa Susana.
- So many yearn to protect the sacred cultural sites that exist behind those fences that represent thousands of years of Chumash, Fernandeño and Tatavian Native American history. This history is now vulnerable. Not necessarily because of the cleanup, because I don’t think they are in danger of being impacted due to the enormous number of people who have spoken out to protect them. But that’s just the sites we know about.
- The riparian oak meadows, species supported by this corridor are extremely vulnerable. Hundreds of acres of oak trees and open-space wildlife are at risk if we don’t make smarter decisions about how to address the cleanup and the future.
What happens to the future? Is the site protected by a few promises made in public meetings?
When we will someday too be gone, how will it be protected then? How will those decisions be made when the oversight is over? That is when I fear the real trouble might begin… I had a community member in West Hills tell me about the enormous response she received because she sent out a heart felt request to her friends on Facebook with this simple premise: “I want my son to be able to see this and show to his children when he grows up. I want him to know what happened here that changed the world in so many ways.”
Today, we have a unique opportunity based on several factors all coming together in one place at one time, along with important oversight and attention based on the closure of the site. Much like the astronomical experience at sunrise on the winter solstice at the Burro Flats painted cave, the timing and lighting is just right with all the pieces in places for a magnificent image that appears first in the concentric circles on the left side of the panel and the image slowly moves across the panel as the sun rises. The only thing we hear are the gasps from within ourselves when we see this moment in time. For that one moment, we are part of it.
Right now, the timing is just right: We have a Congress that is not so supportive of the Presidential actions, and we have a lot of grid-lock in Washington. One thing he [the President] can do is sign to designate a National Monument, as he has already done several times this year alone, in order to better protect our history, our past for the future. [Colorado, Hawaii, among recent designations as well as San Gabriel Mountains last year].
This is something that would provide a future for the site, resources and management for the future, and protection of these resources while also preventing houses from ever being built there in the future. Department of the Interior/NPS would be the management resource agency. These are really important issues that we otherwise have very little control over preventing this demolition of history.
Here’s why I think it matters to our surrounding communities, as well as a brief discussion based on an economic impact study which we recently completed which shows how promising this would be for the community.
Finally and probably most importantly to the hikers and nature lovers: This precious corridor will be complete, and protected in a way that we just cannot otherwise achieve. It feeds perfectly into the ROV Study issues and provides the certainty that while hopefully allow for better remedial decision making.
We have community resolutions passed, over 750 signatures, a 93 member ad hoc committee as well as a lot of public support. The responsible parties all like the idea, but they need to be pushed. We have postcards addressed to the president, petitions, t-shirts, as well as other swag/posters. We hope to work with all surrounding communities to help increase public awareness and support.
Ways You Can Get Involved
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ssflnationalmonument
Ad hoc Committee: http://on.fb.me/1NUeTNm
Public meeting being held 3/26/15 in West Hills 6:30pm: http://on.fb.me/1baUowL