County kicks in $5.2 million to buy James Cameron's land

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One of the largest remaining privately-owned pieces of land in the Santa Monica Mountains may soon be in public hands as conservation land.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a recommendation on Tuesday to contribute up to $5.265 million towards a project to purchase approximately 703 acres of largely undeveloped land near Pepperdine University. 

The county money is part of a $12 million fund being raised to buy the land. Approximately $4.5 million has already been promised by the Wildlife Conservation Board, which voted unanimously last week to approve the funds. On Thursday, the state Coastal Conservancy is scheduled to vote whether to provide the remaining $1.5 million. 

"This is a very good deal for the taxpayers and future generations who will be able to enjoy one of the most beautiful pieces of property out there," said County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. 

Puerco Canyon Properties is composed of 24 parcels of land that are home to several species of native grasses, chaparral and coast live oak woodland. It also includes a portion of the proposed Coastal Slope Trail. 

Puerco Canyon Property Map

The land is mostly owned by film director James Cameron, who at one point intended to build homes on the property. Those plans were ultimately dropped. If the purchase goes through, the land will fall under the management of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. 

Yaroslavsky said that the land is vital for several species, including mountain lions which use the land as a wildlife corridor. 

"Because it's privately owned, there are some entitlements on that property that, if they had been developed by real estate developers, would've disrupted all the environmental resources and values that that land is being purchased for," Yaroslavsky said. "This preserves a piece of very important, sensitive wildlife habitat." 

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