AHMANSON RANCH BECOMES
On September 30, 2003, Washington Mutual reached an agreement in favor of
halting development and selling the Ahmanson Ranch property, due
to lengthy and costly litigation and the continuing pubic
controversy about the projectís impacts on the environment.
park is now open to the public for visiting and hiking, and has been
re-named the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve.
The ten year fight against the development, begun by Mary
Wiesbrock and other local activists, culminated in the $150 million
deal funded by the state to buy Ahmanson Ranch from Washington Mutual
and make it part of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
state Wildlife Conservation panel allocated $135 million of state bond
money. Making up the rest of the $150-million purchase price was the
state Coastal Conservancy, which contributed $10 million, and the
Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which contributed $5 million.
The Village of Huwam
Huwam is significant because, prior to European contact, this village
was an area where Chumash, Tongva, and Tataviam people lived and
interacted with one another. Some of the stories still passed down
through oral tradition illustrate this point. For example, versions of
the story of Munits appear in the oral histories of Chumash and Tongva
people. It is possible that the stories associated with landmarks
located on Ahmanson served to define political boundaries between the
different nationalities that resided there.
Kas'elew (Castle Peak)
This site has traditionally been an area of great ceremonial
importance for Chumash people. It was traditionally used by priests
and astronomers during winter and summer solstice ceremonies.
This site is also
significant because it is one of nine alignment points located within
Chumash territory. These points are central to maintaining balance in
the natural world.
Though Castle Peak is
located on the LA County side and was therefore not a part of Ahmanson
property, it is important to note that the Cave and the Peak can be
seen from one another. This connection and proximity makes the cave
and the peak a continuous area of significance that should not be
Cave of Munits
The cave is important because stories about its significance are still
known by Chumash people today. According to oral history, this cave
was the home of a very powerful shaman who eventually met his end
after murdering the son of a politically important chief.