A Short History of SCOPE
SCOPE’s mission is to promote, protect and preserve the environment. the ecology, and quality of life in the Santa Clara Valley. Although our geographical territory is limited, our issues often impact a much broader area including Los Angeles County and sometimes the entire state.
We are a grass roots organization that focuses on the Santa Clarita Valley in Northern L. A.s County and the watershed of the Santa Clara River. Formed in the same year as the City of Santa Clarita (1987) as a citizens’ oversight group to ensure that public interests, health and the environment are considered in this high-growth area, we have had many successes, both legal and political. We also provide educational seminars on various topics, conservation tours and lobby for legislation that will support a healthy environment for people and the planet on which we depend.
We participate in a variety of venues, City, County, the Regional Water Board, the California Public Utilities Commission and even entered into a developer Bankruptcy proceeding in our efforts to preserve the Santa Clara River, its tributaries and the oak woodlands that where once prevalent in our valley. We also focus on water and air pollution with the Whittaker Bermite, Cemex mine and Chiquita Canyon Landfill being major areas of concern.
Often our local issues have state-wide significance, especially those pertaining to water supply. We have participated in shaping statewide legislative proposals from the “Show me the water” laws passed in 2001, to changes in the Urban Water Management Plan law to exclude counting polluted sources as available, the Human Right to Water Bill, suggestions for language in a fracking bill and CEQA legislation.
One of our first actions in 1991 was to protect the Valley Oak Savannah, a County Significant Ecological Area as housing was built, and to ensure the local elementary school children were protected from dust pollution during the massive grading that was proposed. With a successful court ruling, we succeeded in ensuring that the 150 acres of oak savannah that is visible along the I-5 corridor remained and that an air filtering system would be placed in the elementary school.
We worked with local school districts and the County Library to ensure that adequate funding for schools and the library were incorporated in development fees so that the public would not suffer a reduction in services as new housing was added.
In 2003 we initiated the “Great Urban Tree sit to save the massive 400 year old Pico Oak, “Old Glory” . John Quigley sat in this tree for 71 dayz.The developer finally agreed to move the tree to a nearby park where it still thrives today.https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2004-jan-21-me-tree21-story.html. This year we celebrated 20 years of that oak’s survival in its new home in Pico Canyon Park.
In 2006 we made a settlement with an auto dealership over the issuance of a 404 permit that provided a $25,000 planning grant to begin restoration work on a portion of Bouquet Creek. Now complete, it provides habitat along this tributary to the Sana Clara River next to Central Park.
Our biggest long-term effort over the past 25 years has been the Newhall Ranch project. Newhall Ranch, the 30,000 unit project proposed for development on the Los Angeles –Ventura County line would cause significant harm to water and endangered wildlife. Newhall Ranch is a 12,000 acre site that abuts one of the most pristine reaches of the Santa Clara River, L. A. County’s last free-flowing wild river. It is home to 117 threatened, endangered wildlife species or communities. Of these, 18 are federally listed, two are candidates for listing and 14 are state-listed. In 2002, we won the court battle to ensure that the project would have an adequate water supply. Later, the project was set aside again by the CA Supreme Court in 2015 (we were one of the plaintiffs) over failure to address climate change. It was re-approved with better climate mitigation.
Since 2014 we have worked with the local community of Val Verde to stop or mitigate the effects of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. We were successful in getting the County to provide an EIR summary and all notices in Spanish & English to this majority Spanish speaking community. We also got several air quality monitoring requirements, odor reporting and a health study in the conditions. We continue to work with the community to ensure their enforcement.
We worked with the local Community College to get 68 Valley Oak saplings planted in their conservation easement to replace others that had died in the previous drought.
In 2019 after a decade of effort, SCOPE Radio began broadcasting to the Santa Clarita Valley. Our mission is to provide a forum for community programs and alternatives to the conservative media presence in our valley. Among music and talk shows, we air Bird Notes from Cornell University, Climate Connections from Yale and Extinction Diaries produced by high school students in Mt .Shasta, that talk about species loss. Our programming efforts were severely hindered by the pandemic both in our ability to get volunteers and in fundraising, but we survived!
Last year we focused on wildlife corridors and worked successfully with local Sand Canyon residents to block the loss of that corridor. We also succeeded in bringing attention to Los Pinetos Wildlife underpass with local & state legislators that resulted in a fund to acquire the commercial property that would block it.
This year our group voted to focus its efforts on plastic reduction, wildlife corridors, the California Environmental Quality Act and the Santa Clara River. But of course, as the founder of the Sierra Club once famously said, “Everything is connected to everything else”. So really, that work will include air and water quality, environmental justice issues (Chiquita Canyon Landfill), and global warming.
SCOPE is definitely an example of “Think globally, act locally.” We know that even though our group is local, we have made a difference in the Santa Clarita Valley. Our actions have made a difference in our community and in the world.