In a bid to break a logjam over creating urban parks along transmission corridors, watershed restoration advocates may seek legislation to make it easier to open utility rights-of-way for recreational purposes and river restoration projects. The immediate target of the groups is Southern California Edison\u2019s Tehachapi transmission project, which would bring 4,500 MW of wind power from the mountainous area along the border of Los Angeles and Kern counties to the utility\u2019s customers. \u201cFor the greater Los Angeles region, utility corridors in urban areas are one of the last opportunities to build public amenities like jogging and riding trails,\u201d said Belinda Faustinos, San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy executive officer. \u201cWe really need to get a statutory fix at the state level.\u201d Faustinos said that legislation is needed to ease the way for Conservancy plans to restore the San Gabriel River to a more natural state, and make the waterway accessible for residents in surrounding \u201cpark poor\u201d communities. Toward that end, the Conservancy and the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council set a meeting October 17 with Edison, legislators, and locally-elected officials to develop a strategy for opening up the Tehachapi transmission corridor to \u201csecondary uses.\u201d The meeting also will address how to mitigate potential watershed impacts, such as erosion and reduced water quality. The Tehachapi project is just entering environmental review, said Chuck Adamson, Edison project manager, who added that it is common for the company\u2019s rights-of-way to be used for a variety of secondary uses, including agriculture and parkland. However, he explained, the use must be consistent with the utility\u2019s need to maintain lines, often with heavy equipment. Of immediate concern, according to Faustinos, is the Conservancy\u2019s plan to create a 57-acre park along the river on land once used as a duck farm in the unincorporated community of Basset. A portion of Edison\u2019s Tehachapi line would run through that right-of-way, paralleling existing power transmission and distribution lines, explained Adamson, who plans to speak at the upcoming meeting. The Conservancy fears the additional towers and lines would crowd the area and interfere with the park project as planned. Consequently, it wants the utility to put the new line underground. \u201cIt\u2019s extremely costly\u201d to place a 500 kV line underground, said Adamson. Yet, if the Conservancy paid, Edison might be able to place smaller 66 kV lines underground, he said, which would reduce the utility\u2019s footprint on the property. Even without putting those lines underground, Adamson said, Edison questions whether the project\u2019s footprint would prevent the park from being built. As part of the transmission project, he explained, the utility would be removing three existing towers for a lower capacity line and replacing it with just one new one for the Tehachapi line. In addition, he said, Edison plans to move the smaller existing lines. Another Conservancy concern is that company managers have discussed only a five-year land-use agreement for the park, instead of the 20-year term required to use state bond money for the new recreational area. Even though the Watershed Conservation Authority bought the land with state bond money, it can go no further without entering into an agreement with Edison because the company had an existing easement on the property, which remains under its control. While not in charge of real estate for Edison, Adamson said that the company hopes to discuss the Conservancy\u2019s concerns as both projects move forward. The transmission project is just entering the environmental review phase, with final California Public Utilities Commission approval expected early in 2009. If approved, Edison hopes to build the line by 2013. Not only would it bring in wind energy, but also provide another path for power to reach Southern California from the north and east, which would improve grid reliability. Meanwhile, Faustinos said that the duck farm park project is on a similar timeline. She said that the Conservancy and other community leaders do not want to stop Edison\u2019s project, but work out mitigations that will allow the land to be used to improve the San Gabriel watershed and as new park in the urban landscape.