Parts of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, including the Paramount Ranch, which were lost to the Woolsey Fire in 2018, would be rebuilt according to a plan the National Park Service released for comment.
The Woolsey Fire began on November 8, 2018 near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory above the Simi Valley, near the border between Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Santa Ana winds pushed the fire south on the first day. Then he crossed the 101 Freeway between the San Fernando Valley and the Conejo Valley and led into the Santa Monica Mountains.
In the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, nearly 100,000 acres were burned by the fire. Most of the Western Town at Paramount Ranch was destroyed, as was the 1927 Peter Strauss Ranch house, the Rocky Oaks Ranger residence and museum building, and most of the UCLA La Kretz Field Station. More than 21,000 of the National Park Service’s 23,595 acres within the park boundary burned.
The Environmental Impact Assessment, which analyzes the valet parking’s preferred approach to rebuilding the lost structures and facilities, envisages replacing the 19 lost structures with just nine structures in the three developed areas.
The park plans to use the same locations at these locations for redevelopment, but the goal is for the new facilities to meet modern standards and to be more functional and efficient. The new structures would meet current design codes and standards for accessibility and fire safety, including the standards of the International Building Code, the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standard / Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the International Wildland Urban Interface Code and National Fire Protection Association EA says.
“In addition, the new structures would improve the visitor experience and the efficiency of the park’s operations in terms of pre-fire and post-fire conditions, cultural resources and provide high quality outdoor recreational opportunities for the public,” the document says.
The wildfire destroyed maps and historical photographs, including on-site Hollywood footage, reels of film, prehistoric fossils and Chumash Indian objects, specimens of plants and historical records of the park. It destroyed wildlife monitoring equipment, destroyed countless stretches of the area’s 450 miles of trail, and burned 35 park service buildings, some of which were considered historic.
The Western film set at Paramount Ranch, the only Park Service location telling the story of American filmmaking, lost the Old West Saloon, the sheriff’s office, and posts in TV shows and films such as Western world, Dr. Quinn, medicine woman, The house at the lake, and The Cisco Kid.
The preferred proposal in the EA calls Reconstruction of damaged or destroyed buildings “so that the Paramount Ranch functions as a filming location and event space again. The four historic buildings and all utilities that were destroyed by the fire would be replaced.”
At Rocky Oaks, the Park Service suggests “centralizing the replacement of the employee housing and administrative offices lost by the fire from other NPS properties within the SMMNRA to this location, which would improve the efficiency of NPS operations. The proposed measure would include construction an administration building, employee apartments, parking spaces for mobile homes and connections for seasonal workers and related improvements to the location at this location. In the first phase of the project, only one residential building would be built, but the proposed measure includes a draft for a second residential building. “
The proposed work for the Peter Strauss Ranch provides for the renovation of the ranch house and the outdoor collection areas so that the property can function as an event space again. Construction would come after the improvements at Paramount Ranch and Rocky Oaks are completed and funding for this work is found, the EA said.
If the plan is approved after the current 30-day public comment period, construction on both Paramount Ranch and Rocky Oaks could begin this spring.
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