An amenity is a feature that increases the attractiveness or value of a piece of real estate, and is used as part of a sophisticated marketing strategy to attract potential buyers. It is disturbing to hear talk of linking the Meadows 42 unit housing project to Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park. The developer, New Urban West, is proposing to cut through existing fence to create easy access for future Meadows residents to the Wilderness Park. This misguided, self-serving proposal should be quashed immediately. The City promotes its status as a Wildlife Sanctuary and hosts Earth Day and other public opportunities for residents to learn more about the Wildlife Urban Interface, which describes homes built next to open space. Living in this area brings challenges and a responsibility to preserve the delicate balance between the habitats of wild animals and human residents. Organizations representing the Angeles National Forest, State Parks, and Fish and Wildlife speak to this on a regular basis. ‘’Species abundance and biological diversity suffer noticeably from development impacts, requiring increased management actions’’. Despite promoting Sierra Madre as a Wildlife Sanctuary, the City doesn’t speak up and challenge an action so contrary to the messages from these agencies. The City that is charged with protecting the well being of both its future citizens and the wildlife that live in the canyon. This should be no other pedestrian entrance to Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park other than the existing one on Carter Avenue. This entrance is open from dawn to dusk when it is locked by the Sierra Madre Police Department for the protection and safety of the public and the wildlife who lives there. This arrangement has been in place for many years and has all but eliminated the potentially dangerous interactions that can occur. This is their home – not ours- and we need to respect their space to prevent problems. Weather conditions can also cause the park to be closed. Tragically, in 1994, a father and son were swept away and killed in a debris flow in Bailey Canyon. The Police Department exercises control over the park and will close it when conditions warrant preventing another tragedy. A ‘’secondary’’ pedestrian entrance from the Meadows development would interfere with the City’s ability to protect the public from dangers they may not be aware of. This is not a municipal park with people smoking, drinking, playing boom boxes and walking their pets off leash –all potentially destructive behaviours in a wilderness park. Noise and human disturbance can drive away all but the most adaptable wildlife. Losing just one species affects the relationship between other animals and plants and can seriously upset the balance of the natural ecosystem. Respect Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park for what it is, and always has been, and leave it be. It is an opportunity, as well as a privilege, for us to step away from our daily routine and enter the natural world of native plants and animals living their lives as part of a long established ecosystem. It is an irreplaceable asset to the community and to the many hikers, walkers and school children who recognize it as the special place it is.
Leave it be.