December 30, 2022

Cornerstone Property Acquired by MRCA

It's official! The MRCA, Mountains Restoration and Conservation Authority, has closed on its acquisition of the Cornerstone property, the long disputed knoll at the south east corner of Agoura and Cornell Roads. All grant money from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the California Wildlife Conservation Board was received before the end of this year, 2022, as required by the property owners. The closing took place on December 29 and the property is officially transferred to the MRCA where it is destined to become permanent open space and wildlife habitat. 

The Cornerstone property

The development once proposed for the site

December 19, 2022

A Eulogy for P-22 from Beth Pratt


Dear Friends:

I write this eulogy while looking across one of the ten-lane freeways P-22 somehow miraculously crossed in 2012, gazing at a view of his new home, Griffith Park. Burbank Peak and the other hills that mark the terminus of the Santa Monica Mountains emerge from this urban island like sentinels making a last stand against the second largest city in the country. The traffic noise never ceases. Helicopters fly overhead. The lights of the city give the sky no peace.

Yet a mountain lion lived here, right here in Los Angeles.

I can’t finish this sentence without crying because of the past tense. It’s hard to imagine I will be writing about P-22 in the past tense now.

Biologists and veterinarians with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today they have made the difficult decision to end P-22’s suffering and help him transition peacefully to the next place. I hope his future is filled with endless forests without a car or road in sight and where deer are plentiful, and I hope he finally finds the mate that his island existence denied him his entire life.

I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to say goodbye to P-22. Although I have advocated for his protection for a decade, we had never met before. I sat near him, looking into his eyes for a few minutes, and told him he was a good boy. I told him how much I loved him. How much the world loved him. And I told him I was so sorry that we did not make the world a safer place for him. I apologized that despite all I and others who cared for him did, we failed him.

I don’t have any illusion that my presence or words comforted him. And I left with a great sadness I will carry for the rest of my days.

Before I said goodbye, I sat in a conference room with team members from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the team of doctors at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The showed me a video of P-22’s CT scan, images of the results, and my despair grew as they outlined the list of serious health issues they had uncovered from all their testing: stage two kidney failure, a weight of 90 pounds!!! (he normally weighs about 125), head and eye trauma, a hernia causing abdominal organs to fill his chest cavity, an extensive case of demodex gatoi (a parasitic skin infection likely transmitted from domestic cats), heart disease, and more. The most severe injuries resulted from him being hit by a car last week, and I thought of how terrible it was that this cat, who had managed to evade cars for a decade, in his weakened and desperate condition could not avoid the vehicle strike that sealed his fate.

As the agency folks and veterinarians relayed these sobering facts to me, tissue boxes were passed around the table and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. This team cares just as much for this cat as we all do. They did everything they could for P-22 and deserve our gratitude.

Although I wished so desperately he could be returned to the wild, or live out his days in a sanctuary, the decision to euthanize our beloved P-22 is the right one. With these health issues, there could be no peaceful retirement, only some managed care existence where we prolonged his suffering—not for his benefit, but for ours.

Those of us who have pets know how it feels when we receive news from the veterinarian that we don’t want to hear. As a lifelong dog and cat owner, I have been in this dreadful position too many times. The decision to let them go is never easy, but we as humans have the ability, the responsibility, and the selflessness to show mercy to end the suffering for these beloved family members, a compassionate choice we scarcely have for ourselves.

I look at Griffith Park through the window again and feel the loss so deeply. Whenever I hiked to the Hollywood sign, or strolled down a street in Beachwood Canyon to pick up a sandwich at The Oaks, or walked to my car after a concert at the Greek Theater, the wondrous knowledge that I could encounter P-22 always propelled me into a joyous kind of awe. And I am not alone -- his legion of stans hoped for a sight of Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity, the Brad Pitt of the cougar world, on their walks or on their Ring cams, and when he made an appearance, the videos usually went viral. In perhaps the most Hollywood of P-22’s moments, human celebrity Alan Ruck, star of Succession, once reported seeing P-22 from his deck, and shouting at him like a devoted fan would.

We will all be grappling with the loss of P-22 for some time, trying to make sense of a Los Angeles without this magnificent wild creature. I loved P-22 and hold a deep respect for his intrepid spirit, charm, and just plain chutzpah. We may never see another mountain lion stroll down Sunset Boulevard or surprise customers outside the Los Feliz Trader Joe’s. But perhaps that doesn’t matter—what matters is P-22 showed us it’s possible.

He changed us.  He changed the way we look at LA. And his influencer status extended around the world, as he inspired millions of people to see wildlife as their neighbors. He made us more human, made us connect more to that wild place in ourselves. We are part of nature and he reminded us of that. Even in the city that gave us Carmeggedon, where we thought wildness had been banished a long time ago, P-22 reminded us it’s still here.

His legacy to us, and to his kind will never fade. He ensured a future for the entire population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains by inspiring us to build the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which broke ground this spring.

P-22 never fully got to be a mountain lion. His whole life, he suffered the consequences of trying to survive in unconnected space, right to the end when being hit by a car led to his tragic end. He showed people around the world that we need to ensure our roads, highways, and communities are better and safer when people and wildlife can freely travel to find food, shelter, and families. The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing would not have been possible without P-22, but the most fitting memorial to P-22 will be how we carry his story forward in the work ahead. One crossing is not enough – we must build more, and we must continue to invest in proactive efforts to protect and conserve wildlife and the habitats they depend on—even in urban areas.

P-22’s journey to and life in Griffith Park was a miracle. It’s my hope that future mountain lions will be able to walk in the steps of P-22 without risking their lives on California’s highways and streets. We owe it to P-22 to build more crossings and connect the habitats where we live now.

Thank you for the gift of knowing you, P-22. I’ll miss you forever. But I will never stop working to honor your legacy, and although we failed you, we can at least partly atone by making the world safer for your kind.

With kindness,

Beth Pratt

California Regional Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation

Leader, #SaveLACougars Campaign

November 16, 2022

California Wildlife Conservation Board Votes Grant to MRCA to Acquire Cornerstone

The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) voted Tuesday, November 15, to provide a grant to the Mountains Restoration and Conservation Authority (MRCA) to purchase the Cornerstone property appropriately identified as the Agoura Hills-Santa Monica Mountains Gateway. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) also contributed funds towards this purchase. There is a willing seller. The MRCA will maintain the property. Evidence of endangered native plants, a wildlife corridor, future trails, and protection of the nearby recently purchased Triangle Ranch were some of the reasons for awarding this grant. The grant was unanimously approved. 

In an emailed statement, former State Senator and Agoura Hills' first mayor said, "Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen! Happy Anniversary Agoura Hills!" 

Certainly, thanks should go to the many citizens who mobilized to oppose the large scale development project sited for this parcel in November of 2016. The lawsuit filed by STACK (Save the Agoura Cornell Knoll), and supported by the California Native Plant Society, in opposition to the Cornerstone development, was successful in court and upheld by the State Supreme Court. It put an end to to the project which included 44 residential units and 112,000 square feet of commercial development. Once it is purchased by the MRCA, the land will be preserved as open space and wildlife habitat in perpetuity.

One Agoura Hills resident who spoke at the meeting, Mary Ann Rush, said "Fran Pavley deserves lots of the credit. Her speech was wonderful as she spoke about the project being a great gift to the city for its 40th Birthday." We agree that  Agoura Hills also  owes a big "Thank You" to Fran who serves on both the WCB and the SMMC board. From her early days as first mayor of Agoura Hills, throughout her subsequent political career in the California Assembly and Senate, and in her current roles with the SMMC, the WCB and the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, Fran has been a consistent and indefatigable champion for the the environment and the preservation of the Santa Monica Mountains. Virtually every parcel of mountain habitat in our area that has been preserved for future generations has her involvement in some manner. As a member of the WCB, Fran spoke convincingly about the importance of this parcel and made the motion to grant the funds to the MRCA.

November 10, 2022

Wildlife Conservation Board to Consider Acquisition of "Cornerstone" Parcel in Agoura Hills on November 15th

On November 15, the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) will consider a grant of $2,300,000 to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) for the acquisition of a parcel of land in Agoura Hills known locally as "Cornerstone." This Santa Monica Mountains Gateway parcel is a key block of habitat linkage leading to the wildlife crossing currently under construction over the 101 freeway at Liberty Canyon. To the south of the parcel are many open space properties. Comments to the WCB can be addressed to You can also join the meeting via Zoom by going to the WCB website or click HERE.

The WCB staff is recommending approval of the grant siting the importance of the parcel which sits in the wild-land urban interface.

Below are excerpts from the WCB Staff Report:

"The Agoura Hills-Santa Monica Mountains Gateway property (Property) is located in northern Los Angeles County within the Agoura Hills City limits at the southeast corner of Cornell Road and Agoura Road. The Property sits in the wildland-urban interface. Commercial development and the Highway 101 are to the north of the Property with low density housing to the east.To the south are several open space
properties.The Property is less than 1.5 miles west of the under-construction Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing at Liberty Canyon and comprises a portion of the western approach south of the 101 Freeway. Approximately two miles north of the Property is Ventura County’s Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridor designed to support connectivity between the southerly Santa Monica Mountains and the northerly Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains.

This project contributes to the goals of Pathways to 30x30 California by aligning with Pathway 2: Execute Strategic Land Acquisitions. The Property abuts both City of Agoura Hills open space preserve and a corner of MRCA’s 320-acre Triangle Ranch property, partially funded through prior WCB grants. Los Angeles County designated the Property as part of the Santa Monica Mountains Significant Ecological Area, and it forms part of the northern gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area east of Ladyface Mountain. The Property also abuts the boundary of the Santa Monica-Sierra Madre
Connector CAPP. This CAPP serves to connect land administered by several entities in the Santa Monica Mountains, such as California State Parks, National Park Service, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, MCRA, and Mountain

The Property consists of 26 contiguous parcels and is subject to a tentative subdivision map for proposed mix used residential-commercial development. The gentle-sloped, mostly north-facing property features volcanic substrate with deep soils supporting Valley Oak Savannah and California black walnut. Up slope rocky terrain supports a high diversity of native grasses and wildlife flower species inter-mixed with pockets of scrub oak and coast live oak. The Property is accessible from Agoura Road and Cornell Road with an existing dirt road which will be dedicated as a public trail to form a segment of the Rim of the Valley Trail linking the proposed northerly Agoura Hills Linear Park. The Paramount Ranch Connector
Trail is to the southeast. The Property is approximately 500 feet east of a perennial water in Medea Creek.
The creek forms part of the upper Malibu Creek watershed that drains to the North Santa Monica Bay. The project will support the California Water Action Plan by preserving essential groundwater infiltration capacity within 500 feet of Medea Creek.

The Property is a high priority on the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Acquisition Work program and supports the goals of the Santa Monica Mountains Comprehensive Plan. The Property abuts MRCA’s Triangle Ranch that represents the southern terminus of the South Coast Missing Linkage’s Santa Monica-Sierra Madre Connection, cited in the State Wildlife Action Plan as “a highly collaborative inter-agency effort to identify and conserve the highest-priority linkages in the South Coast Ecoregion.” Portions of the Property contain grasslands and flower fields also targeted by the SWAP’s Conservation Strategy 1 (Land Acquisition/Easement/Lease).

The Project will preserve 8± acres of unique habitat and further the WCB Strategic Plan priorities and goals to fund multi-benefit projects that support species strongholds/refugia, habitat connectivity and corridors, and threatened and endangered species while simultaneously providing additional public use without degradation to the ecosystems. Preservation of remaining open space is critical to maintain, or restore, functional habitat connections within and between core habitat areas in order for species to adapt to, and persist through, climate change. Threatened and endangered species documented on the Property include the Federally listed Agoura Hills dudleya, and the California Endangered Species Act candidate species crotch bumble bee. The California Native Plant Society ranked 1B.1 Ojai navarretia is present. Additionally, the Federal and State listed Lyon’s pentachaeta and State listed Santa Susana tarplant are known to exist within one-half mile of the Property. Other important species using the site include deer and mountain lion."

October 9, 2022

Conservancy Considers Grant to MRCA to Acquire Deer Creek on Highway 1 in Ventura County

On Monday, October 19, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) will consider a grant of general funds to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) to acquire an exclusive option to purchase the property known as Deer Creek Beach or the Mansdorf property. The property consists of 32 contiguous parcels, totaling 1,241.5 acres in unincorporated Ventura County. A $10,000,000 grant to the MRCA from the Trust for Public Lands can make this significant addition to parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains a reality. 

 The Deer Creek property has 2.2 miles of coastline and is located on both side of PCH. It is a completely unspoiled stretch of coast that thousands drive by every day and many probably presume to be part of Point Mugu State Park, which borders the property to the north.The map posted below provides a visual of the location of the property relative to other nearby public lands.

Deer Creek is one of the largest parcels of unspoiled habitat ever to be acquired by the MRCA. It has abundant native vegetation and wildlife and is identified by the National Park Service as known mountain lion habitat. The following chart provides a glimpse of where Mountain Lions in the Santa Monicas are known to roam.

July 7, 2022

6,000 Acres of Prime Open Space in Northern Los Angeles County Now Protected

  Acquisition of Hathaway/Temescal Ranch advances California’s 30x30 conservation goals

SACRAMENTO — The largest undeveloped private property in Los Angeles County is now part of a protected ecological area that will preserve habitat and expand wildlife corridors between the San Gabriel, Sierra Madre and Santa Susanna mountains. It also moves California a step closer in its effort to conserve 30 percent of the state’s land and coastal waters by 2030, often referred to as the 30x30 initiative. 

The Hathaway/Temescal Ranch property, 6,006 acres of open space, is 40 miles west of downtown Los Angeles and adjacent to both the Angeles National Forest and the Los Padres National Forest between Castaic Reservoir and Lake Piru.

“This is a big deal,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot. “This acquisition will help preserve biodiversity, expand outdoor access for Angelenos, and sequester carbon as we combat climate change. It’s just the kind of creative, voluntary action that is driving our 30x30 movement across California.”

Hathaway/Temescal Ranch is land that has been used for ranching and grazing, but other than a modest ranch home, it is undeveloped. The property includes wetlands, rolling hills and is within the flight path for condors from the nearby Sespe Condor Sanctuary.

“In the Southern California landscape, securing 6,000 acres is extraordinary, especially 6,000 acres that provide prime linkage between protected spaces, and with major water resources,” said Chair of the Governing Board of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) George Lange. “The MRCA will continue to work together with federal, State, and local government, our nonprofit partners, and landowners to preserve and protect critical open space for the public benefit.”

The property was acquired in three phases by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, and transferred to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, a local government agency exercising joint powers of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and the Conejo and Rancho Simi Recreation and Park Districts.

“After nearly three decades, it’s incredible to finally be able to celebrate the protection of Temescal Ranch, one of the largest contiguous stretches of land ever conserved in Los Angeles County, that not only will bring a wide network of hiking and biking trails close to home for Los Angeles residents but will protect some of California’s most unique coastal sage scrub and chaparral ecosystems," said California State Director and Vice President-Pacific Region for Trust for Public Land Guillermo Rodriguez. “We’re proud to have worked with our dedicated partners at MRCA and thankful to the support of our private donors and public funders to ensure permanent access to this unique and beautiful landscape.”

The California Wildlife Conservation Board was key to acquiring the land and funded almost half of the purchase, including $3.5 million in voter-approved Proposition 117 funds to secure the final phase.

The property sits within a Los Angeles County-designated “Significant Ecological Area.” It helps create critical east to west linkage between the San Gabriel and Sierra Madre mountains as well as a north to south linkage between the Sierra Madre and Santa Susanna mountains, both highlighted in the South Coast Missing Linkages Project, which is a comprehensive plan for a regional network that would maintain and restore critical habitat linkages between existing reserves. These linkages form the backbone of a conservation strategy for Southern California.

The acquisition is another step forward toward California’s 30x30 conservation goals. This commitment is part of an international movement to protect nature across the planet, which now includes 90 countries that have adopted 30x30 targets.

In April, the California Natural Resources Agency released Pathways to 30x30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature, responding to Governor Gavin Newsom’s nature-based solutions executive order, which identified California’s lands as a critical yet underutilized sector in the fight against climate change.

Pathways to 30x30 outlines a roadmap, including land purchases such as the Hathaway/Temescal Ranch property, to achieve the state’s first-in-the-nation 30x30 land conservation goal. California has conserved 24 percent of its land and 16 percent of coastal waters to date. To reach 30 percent by 2030, the state’s strategy lays out several concurrent pathways, including accelerating regionally led conservation, buying strategic lands for conservation and access, expanding voluntary conservation easements, and aligning investments to maximize conservation benefits. Empowering local and regional partners is essential to achieve this target, and the strategy establishes a 30x30 Partnership to organize this coordination and collaboration.

Scientists from around the world agree that conserving one-third of the planet by 2030 is needed to combat climate change, protect people from climate impacts, and to limit the mass extinction of plant and animal life. It also represents a historic opportunity to strengthen the human connection to nature, especially for communities that have historically lacked access, including those in populous counties such as Los Angeles.

March 25, 2022

Groundbreaking Set for Wildlife Crossing Over the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon