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Students want to preserve Gorman

first_imgGORMAN – This gray pit-stop along Interstate 5 on the Grapevine blossoms into a bright, vibrant tapestry once a year in the spring when wildflowers cover its hillsides – a scene that a group of UCLA Extension landscape-architecture students hopes could be protected from future development. These 25 students in the course Advanced Environmental Analysis and Planning compiled a 92-page report aimed at dedicating 2,800 acres along a 5-mile stretch of Gorman Post Road as a wildflower preserve. The proposal, which they plan to present to local property owners, was unveiled Saturday. “You sort of think about Gorman as the place where you have to stop and put (snow) chains on your car,” said Greg Maher, a third-year landscape architecture student and co-manager of the class project. “But it’s more than that. There is just a lot that’s going on around here. “It’s a different kind of planning exercise,” said O’Brien, a city of Los Angeles planner who has taught the course for seven years. “This is more like advocacy planning. You’re advocating that to be done, rather than planning for a site. “That particular area is ecologically valuable. It’s a conjunction of three major ecological areas. The desert, the mountains and the coast all come together right there – it’s unique. We want people to know how great this site is, and how precarious this site is right now.” The students spent eight weeks compiling land use, ecology, geology and environmental data to design a 2,800-acre preserve stretching from the intersection of Interstate 5 and state Route 138 to Gorman’s northeast town limits. They also propose a visitors center and granting Gorman Post Road state scenic highway status. “This is a big-picture sort of thing,” Maher said. “We’re looking at how something can be used 10 to 20 years down the road. We’ve never really dealt with anything like that before.” Whether the proposal takes root depends on the 22 private-property owners who own the 48 parcels covering the preserve site. “We’re not proposing to take away anybody’s land,” Maher said. “It’s at what point do you say, ‘Enough, leave this place alone?”‘ For student planner Meg Sullivan, the project took her studies out of the classroom and into the center of community planning policy. “When we have assignments up to this point, even if it’s designing a park or public place, nobody would’ve heard about it,” she said. “We had a sense that what we’re doing can really matter. “We hope that we could have an impact on this site. We all fell in love with it.” Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals “It’s definitely about the wildflowers. But it’s also about what’s happening to the last vestiges of open space in Southern California.” A sleepy town dotted with a few motels and gas stations, Gorman is the last outpost before the Los Angeles-Kern county line. It was a key stop on the old Ridge Route through the Tehachapi Mountains, though its importance waned with the construction of Interstate 5. Still, the area remains renowned for its natural scenery – local poppies inspired artist Christo to set 1,760 giant umbrellas in 1991 along the Grapevine as part of his “Umbrellas” project. But development is creeping in. A spring-water farm and a small subdivision have been proposed, while The Tejon Ranch Co. is planning the 23,000-home Centennial development to the north. It adds up to a fertile classroom for University of California, Los Angeles, Extension planning instructor Michael O’Brien, a change of pace from the usual parks or public plaza design projects. last_img

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