Today, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) joined former Congressman Tony Beilenson, as well as federal, state and local park officials to celebrate the grand opening of the Anthony C. Beilenson Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains.
"Nearly thirty-four years ago, Congressman Beilenson helped pass federal legislation to establish the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area," said Congressman Sherman. "During his tenure in Congress, Tony Beilenson secured more than $151 million in federal funding to protect thousands of acres of pristine habitat, connect new parkland acquisitions through an expanding trail system and create the largest urban national park in the country." "Because of Tony Beilenson's legacy, millions of visitors to the Santa Monica Mountains now have the opportunity to learn about the national recreation area's significant archeological, historical and cultural resources at the new visitor center and they can discover dozens of parks, more than 500 miles of trails and world-renowned beaches, " added Sherman.
Congressman Sherman has been the leading champion in Congress to help secure federal funds for key parkland acquisitions in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, such as Zuma and Trancas Canyons and Malibu Creek, as well as completing construction of the 65-mile Backbone Trail. In 2005, Sherman directed $2.5 million of the funding he helped secure for trail development in the Santa Monica Mountains toward the acquisition of King Gillette Ranch. He also helped convince the Bush and Obama Administrations to prioritize funding for local plans to construct an interagency visitor center at this historic property in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains.
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act provided $9.5 million in funding for the construction of the visitor center -- the first visitor center in the National Park Service to produce all of its own energy needs. King Gillette Ranch was acquired for $35 million in 2005 through a partnership between federal, state and local agencies, as well as private donors. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the nation's largest urban national park providing a variety of outdoor activities for 35 million annual visitors.