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Lake locals want area kept pristine

April 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's a treasured hideaway of natural beauty in the Antelope Valley. Now, much of Lake Elizabeth is up for sale, along with surrounding wetlands. And that has many people worried about the lake's future.It's two miles long and 18 to 20 feet deep. Lake Elizabeth is the largest natural lake in Los Angeles County. The west side of the lake belongs to the U.S. Forest Service. Sixty-five acres on the eastern side of lake are for sale. The asking price: $19.5 million.

"This lake supports many different species, both local and migratory, and that includes some sensitive species such as the Southwestern Pond Turtle and also the Tri-colored Blackbird, so it's very important," said Louisa Stephen, Lakes and Valleys Conservancy. "We even have some bald eagle sightings, which is just terrific."

Louisa Stephen and a group of her Lake Elizabeth neighbors have formed the Lakes and Valleys Conservancy. Their goal is simple: Raise the money needed to purchase the property and preserve it the way it is.

"There hasn't been any deadlines given, but I wouldn't be able to give you a date, but yes, I think time is urgent for us," said Teri Gordon, Lakes and Valleys Conservancy.

It is quiet up there. No power boats or Jet Skis allowed. Most of the 165 acres that are for sale is shoreline and marsh. There are about 16 acres that are zoned for commercial use. The locals who call Lake Elizabeth home would like the place just to remain the way it is, tranquil, peaceful, not developed too much.

"Really keeping it open as a wild life refuge, a conservancy, is really the right thing to do," said Norman Hickling, spokesperson for L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

The current owner is Montana-based Ridgetop Branch Properties. It too wants to keep the property just as you see it right now, so they reportedly are continuing to work with the conservancy to work out a deal with for this land.


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