Bulk of Malibu Creek State Park designated as ‘core habitat’

The Malibu Creek State Park General Plan was released last week for public review. The plan calls for at least 60 percent of the park to be designated for wildland preserve.

Residents would like more recreational uses designated in the park’s general plan.

By P.G. O’Malley/Special to The Malibu Times

The draft of the general plan that will determine the future for the next 25 years of Malibu Creek State Park was made public last week, but so far it hasn’t generated much comment.

“We only got ours last Friday,” said City Manager Katie Lichtig, “and we haven’t had a chance to go through it thoroughly.”

The draft plan, which was developed with input from two public hearings that took place last spring and summer, preserves the bulk of the park in what Malibu Sector Superintendent Hayden Sohm described as “core habitat.” The rest is designated as cultural resource areas and as areas for recreation and open space.

If approved, the most important development for Malibu will be the designation of what is effectively a wildland preserve in the southern section of Malibu Canyon ending where state park land meets Malibu Lagoon. According to the plan, the only recreational use allowed in that area would be low intensity, and Sohm envisions a multiuse trail that would run along the creek.

Back up the creek, the Tapia subunit of the park will be retrofitted to its original purpose as a group camp with a cafeteria and indoor sleeping accommodations for about 100 people. North of Mulholland Highway, White Oak Farm will be designated a cultural resource area where the goal is to eventually develop exhibits that will interpret the area’s ranching heritage.

Although Hohm said preserving some 60 percent of the park as core habitat reflects the goals of the plan, which include protecting areas with the highest biological sensitivity and most outstanding natural and scientific significance, some of the people who commented during the discussion process would like to see more area set aside for recreation.

Ruth Gerson, president of Recreation and Equestrian Coalition, is concerned there’s too much preservation.

“This is an urban park,” Gerson said. “And it’s a very popular park. I don’t want to see it as look-but-don’t-touch.”

Likewise, Malibu resident Anne Hoffman, president of the Land Use Preservation Fund, would like to see more active recreational uses, “not just walking.” Her wish list includes an amphitheater similar to the one in Topanga Canyon that would offer plays and other kinds of live entertainment.

Gerson did say she was pleased the state finally agreed to an equestrian campground across from Paramount Ranch, but noted she’s been pushing the idea for the last 25 years and had to personally commit to raising the money to develop it to get it included in the plan.

Calls to various environmental groups such as Heal the Bay and the Sierra Club for comment on the draft plan weren’t returned, and Gerson thinks making the document public just before the holidays -and only on CD-was a mistake. Although the draft allows a 45-day public comment period, Gerson says she plans to request that period be extended.

The plan is available in hard copy at the Calabasas library and by CD from the state park office at Malibu Creek.