I Heart SCV
Nature Calling
May, 2012 - Issue #91

Santa Clarita has a website for everything. Among them are,, and even is not too far off, I hope. One of the more pleasing additions to the list, however, is, which maps our extensive trail networks and directs people to trailheads that can be tricky to find. The site includes photos taken by motion-triggered trail cameras of gray foxes, bobcats and other wildlife cavorting through the hills. Before summer heat takes hold, you may want to get in a little cavorting through nature yourself. It's May, and we're all thinking about the great outdoors.

"The advertising campaign reminds us of the
innumerable modest thrills
we can have and heart under
the SCV sun. Just think like a TOURIST to find them."

We are approaching some sort of critical mass in the network of trails through Santa Clarita. The Iron Horse Trailhead is set to open this month near Magic Mountain Parkway, connecting paths on either side of the Santa Clara River. Open spaces in the Placerita Canyon area are being linked by trail extensions, attracting hikers looking for 10-plus mile loops through rugged country. City Council Member Laurene Weste has been keeping Claritans apprised of efforts to link Santa Clarita's trail system into regional networks. One day, we may be able to hike far deeper into the mountains and potentially even out to the coast.

The Sierra Club, Community Hiking Club and other groups will have hikes throughout Santa Clarita this month, although there's nothing quite as peaceful as hiking alone. I saw "127 Hours" and know that going into the wilderness solo can be dangerous. Like James Franco's character, I could end up with my arm under a rock and be forced to self-amputate and make a movie about it. But it's a risk I'm willing to take: With better-connected trails, I won't have to wait too long for help if I do end up on the wrong side of a rock.

Lauffer v. Plambeck
Marlee Lauffer is usually seen wearing a smile, looking as poised as you'd expect Newhall Land's senior vice president of marketing and communications to look. Lynne Plambeck is a bit more soft-spoken, her smiles fewer and her leanings more environmental than developmental. The Lauffer/Plambeck pairing is familiar; they've been promoting very different views of what the Newhall Ranch project will mean for the Santa Clarita Valley.

Several environmental groups including Plambeck's own, SCOPE, are suing Los Angeles County after the board of supervisors approved the first phase of Newhall Ranch, which comprises 1,444 homes. The suit attacks on multiple fronts: endangered species may be threatened, the river damaged and American Indian graves unearthed in the process of building the first phase of the new community. Despite all of these claims, Lauffer has complete confidence that Newhall Land will prevail. Opposition from environmental groups and past business troubles have delayed the build-out of Newhall Ranch for many years - it's almost a war of attrition between pro- and anti-development factions. Who wins?

Come for Six Flags, Stay for...?
The City of Santa Clarita wants tourists. Quite logically, it's going to major tourist destinations to get them. "You don't need a whale to have a killer time," winks a billboard in San Diego, home of Sea World. A billboard in Phoenix's Paradise Valley proclaims, "Even Paradise needs an escape." What exactly is the big draw of Santa Clarita? Tourists can have a blast at Six Flags Magic Mountain, visit Hurricane Harbor, and then, and then? What to do next is a bit of a problem. We have lots of fun festivals, shopping, golfing and spas. But so do San Diego, Paradise Valley and most any city with a population over 100,000.

It's hard to know how enticing they are, but some outdoor attractions are boasted as setting Santa Clarita apart from the rest at the website called - you guessed it - The beautiful desert formations at Vasquez Rocks, the historic Oak of the Golden Dream in Placerita Canyon and the majestic Santa Clarita Skate Park are all touted. Whether effective draws or not, the advertising campaign reminds us of the innumerable modest thrills we can have and heart under the SCV sun. Just think like a tourist to find them.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to
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