Meet the People Who Want to Buy a Mountain to Protect Wildlife

To prevent developers from building in an area of the Santa Monica Mountains that’s a crucial wildlife corridor for mountain lions, bobcats and deer, Laurel Canyon residents and an environmental advocacy group have launched the “Let’s Buy a Mountain” campaign.

“It’s not as crazy as you think” is its tagline – and it’s true. The goal of the campaign is to raise funds to buy 17 acres of undeveloped land for $1.6 million. If it’s successful, the land will be turned over to a local government agency and preserved as open space.

The idea for the campaign came from Jamie Hall, a Laurel Canyon resident and land use attorney who was tired of protesting new development after plans were already underway. When Hall, who’s president of the Laurel Canyon Association (LCA), found out the undeveloped parcel of land was for sale, he decided to try to buy it.

The LCA has already negotiated a deal to purchase the land, in partnership with the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA), Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife (CLAW) and the Laurel Canyon Land Trust (LCLT).

“We’re watching these incredible green spaces disappear very quickly,” Alison Simard, founder and chair of CLAW, said at a news conference announcing the campaign, the Los Angeles Times reports. “We need to grab this land where we can and preserve it.”

The challenge will be coming up with the payment for the land, which is due in installments over the next 18 months.

The first installment of $48,000 (plus $2,000 for ancillary costs) is due Nov. 2. Seed donors have pledged $10,000.

“This is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime,” Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, who represents Laurel Canyon, said at the news conference. He promised to match donations up to $15,000.

If $50,000 is not raised by the Nov. 2 deadline, all donations will be refunded and the agreement to purchase the land will be cancelled.

The land’s current owners, who were having difficulty selling the property due in part to some unsightly power lines, figured a developer would buy the land. The owners had plans drawn up to subdivide the property and build as many as four mansions, obliterating the wildlife corridor.

This would be devastating for mountain lions in the area who are already confined due to urban sprawl and a freeway for which there is currently no wildlife overpass bridge. Because they can’t establish new territories, they become vulnerable to attacks by older lions (sadly, this was the fate of the two cubs in the photo above), and they are forced to inbreed, which leads to health problems.

Three young mountain lions have been found dead since September. One of them had ingested rat poison – yet another hazard for wildlife in the area.

“If you’re a mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains, this is just not an easy place to grow up,” said Dr. Seth Riley, wildlife ecologist for the National Park Service. “From our roads to rat poisons to potentially increased interactions with other mountains lions, it is very difficult for young animals to make it to adulthood, establish their own home range and reproduce.”

If the Let’s Buy a Mountain campaign achieves its goal, it will mean one less obstacle for mountain lions and other area wildlife. The land will be turned over to the MRCA and become permanent open space with the corridor intact.

Photo Credit: National Park Service

192 comments

Mark Donner
Mark Donner2 years ago

17 acres is such a small amount of space.

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mari s.
Mari S2 years ago

Wonderful idea -- we NEED to vigilantly keep and maintain our natural environments -- our planet needs our green world.

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Tom S.
Past Member 2 years ago

I really love your write-ups guys continue the good work.Jimmy

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Alison Simard
Alison Simard3 years ago

Hooray!, we reached our $50,000 first goal. We need to reach $100,000 by March. Please continue to share and check in by Facebook and at www.Letsbuyamountain.com

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c rocklein

“If $50,000 is not raised by the Nov. 2 deadline, all donations will be refunded and the agreement to purchase the land will be cancelled.”

SO WAS THE MONEY RAISED? IS THE PROJECT GOING THROUGH? I SINCERELY HOPE SO. THIS WAS A VERY AMBITIOUS AND MOVING PROJECT AND ONE I THINK MANY PEOPLE WOULD BE WILLING TO GET BEHIND. Trying to preserve that wildlife corridor is a good thing!

How about an update on the story...??

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Ake Lindberg
Past Member 3 years ago

Great!

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c rocklein

I'd donate a few bucks.. where?

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Maureen King
Maureen King3 years ago

Good luck.Wish you all the best with this project and hope enough people donate to make it a success.

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Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.3 years ago

tyfs

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