On January 13th, Los Angeles County released the 2020 LA River Master Plan, which is a comprehensive update to the original LA River Master Plan released in 1996. The new plan takes a more holistic "watershed and community approach" within which site specific, culturally relevant, and multi-benefit improvement projects are prioritized. The 2020 LA River Master Plan "includes over two decades of planning and implementation efforts for the LA River, including efforts by LA County (1996), the City of LA (2007), the LA River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study (also known as the ARBOR Study, 2015), the Lower LA River Working Group (2018), and the Upper LA River and Tributaries Working Group (2019)."
The County wants to hear from you! Public comment can be made now until March 14th via the LA River Master Plan website. This is a great opportunity to share your thoughts and have a direct impact on the future of the River and its surrounding communities.
Although often neglected and undervalued, the LA River is an incredibly valuable resource in terms of connecting people with the land and each other, building sustainable habitat for birds and other wildlife, investing in local communities, and recognizing the Indigenous communities who were the original stewards of this land, and who continue to steward the land today. Now is the time to play a role in building a sustainable future for the LA River - one in which diversity, equity, and ecological harmony is prioritized.
The LA County Board of Directors is expected to review the Final Draft of the 2020 Plan as early as this summer.
El documento también está disponible para su revisión en español en https://www.larivermasterplan.org
For our first Backyard Birding Tips video of the year, we’re taking a look at one of our loudest backyard birds – the Northern Mockingbird! Chances are you’ve seen a Northern Mockingbird around your neighborhood or in a local park, as these bold birds certainly like to make their presence known. Their long song is essentially a mash-up of different bird calls, which they learn by mimicking other species they encounter. Northern Mockingbirds learn new sounds throughout their lives – in fact, adult male Mockingbirds may know almost 200 different sounds! Check out our latest Backyard Birding Tips video to learn more about identifying the Northern Mockingbird.
Last month, we wrapped up the first ever Occidental (Oxy) Conservation Corps cohort! Through this pilot program, the Audubon Center at Debs Park partnered with the Occidental College Biology Department to provide 17 first-year students with an opportunity to work directly with community-based environmental organizations in Los Angeles. Students gained skills related to environmental conservation, community engagement, project development, professionalism, and more. From October through November, students completed 5-10 hours of volunteer service each week to support or elevate the work and mission of their host site. Upon completion of their internships, students received 2 course credits.
In total, students contributed over 450 hours of volunteer service to our community partners! We want to recognize this impressive achievement and extend a huge THANK YOU to this amazing group of students and our incredible host site supervisors.
Both students and host sites demonstrated exceptional adaptability in response to the virtual nature of these internships, due to COVID-19 related precautions and limitations. For many students, this was their first internship experience, so to have to adapt to a virtual structure on top of everything else was a lot to ask! Furthermore, the majority of students were studying remotely and the group lived all across the country from Hawaii to New York, to even internationally in the United Arab Emirates. However, the students truly stepped up to the plate and were able to complete impactful projects for their host organizations here in Los Angeles. This was the first time that many of our host sites were facilitating virtual internships as well, and they similarly demonstrated great creativity and flexibility.
Student projects included:
This program served as a great learning experience for everyone involved (ourselves included!), and we are grateful to Occidental, our partners, and the incredible students who made this all happened. We hope to be able to continue this program in the future, ideally with all in-person internships! Click here for the final impact report.
Check out Requiem for Lost Plants, an interactive project developed by local artists Alice Yuan Zhang and Alexander Kaye! Requiem for Lost Plants aims to shine a light on how whole ecological communities have been uprooted without acknowledgement as a result of the colonization and urbanization of Tongva, Chumash, and Kizh land here in Los Angeles.
The project digitally resurrects diminishing plant elders to share their stories for a global public through an immersive online environment: https://tinyurl.com/requiemforlostplants
Web-based visitors find themselves in an anthropocentric representation of urban Los Angeles, juxtaposed by the brightly-lit presence of five ancestral plants. Salix gooddingii, Salvia apiana, Sphaeralcea ambigua, Pseudognaphalium californicum and Layia carnosa dot the environment, hailing from diverse local communities of wetlands, sand dunes, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub habitats.
You can also interact with the project in person at a number of "culprit" sites across Los Angeles, including Rio de Los Angeles State Park!
Throughout the many millennia that these plants have called the land home, long before human concepts of ‘property rights’ and ‘manifest destiny’, they have cultivated know-how for not just their own survival but for the wellbeing of whole ecosystems. Each plant holds a nuanced story of collaboration and generosity so bountifully found in nature. We risk losing this wisdom as our own challenges of greed, neglect, and myopia continue to push aside and erase the deep generational knowledge of Indigenous peoples and make it increasingly difficult for the ecosystems themselves to survive. In sharing the stories and narratives of these "lost plants," the artists hope to inspire a deeper connection between people and the land, and to further advance localized ecological justice.
Requiem for Lost Plants is created by Los Angeles-based artists Alice Yuan Zhang and Alexander Kaye for 3hd Festival 2020: UNHUMANITY, commissioned by Creamcake and NAVEL. The Audubon Center at Debs Park is happy to have played a small role in the creation of this piece by providing ecological background and guidance.
During uncertain and unpredictable times we are finding solace in the familiarity of our favorite fall migrants - check out our latest Backyard Birding Tips video to learn how to identify some common migrants that you may be able to spot in the Los Angeles area throughout the winter months!
We hope that this update finds you and your loved ones safe and well, and that you are able to find moments of peace in the midst of anxiety surrounding the election, the sustainability of our local communities, and the precarity of our environment.
We are finding solace in the familiarity of Fall migrants, and while the Center remains closed to the public we have been focusing on our solar system renovation and staying connected with our community partners.
We do not aniticipate reopening the Center to the public until early next year. The Debs Park trails however, remain open, and we hope folks continue to safely take advantage of recreating in the park. Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com with any questions or concerns!
On Sunday, October 25th the community came out to Debs Park to celebrate Center Director Marcos Trinidad's work in the community as a part of Metabolic Studio's Dulce Democracia project. Although the morning was overcast and chilly, the sun came out just in time as Angelica's Ice Cream truck pulled into the Debs Park parking lot off of Monterey Road, to the delight of all the kids (and many of the adults) in attendance.
Dulce Democracia is an action of Metabolic Studio, where they have partnered with a local ice cream truck vendor named Fausto (Angelica’s Ice Cream) and are distributing ice cream and masks along his regular routes in East LA and in communities along the Los Angeles River. The masks they are giving away say “¡Vote! 2020” on them as they encourage everyone to safely participate in this critical election. Additionally, the Center was able to provide the community with free California wild rose plants from our Los Nogales Native Plant Nursery!
As a part of this project, Metabolic Studio has been recognizing leaders in our local community who have uplifted their communities in these unprecedented times with a What the Helado!? Banana Split. It was a pleasure to share this honor with friends, family, partners, and community members - without whom the Center's work in the community would not be possible. Especially in the midst of the oftentimes overwhelming stress and pain surrounding Covid-19, racial injustice, spreading wildfires, and election anxiety, it was an incredibly fresh breath of air to be able to connect with our community (while still physically distancing) and enjoy a sweet treat in the sun together.
Of course, Dulce Democracia is about more than free ice cream and enjoying each other's company. It's about coming together to share resources and mobilize those around us to take action and to vote early in this all too critical election. If you are able to and haven't done so yet, we urge you to please VOTE by 8pm on November 3rd.
We'd like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Metabolic Studio for the ongoing support of Marcos and the Center's work. For more info on their work, visit https://www.metabolicstudio.org/.
To our Debs Park community,
We hope this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and well. I’m sure many of you are just as surprised as we are that we are already nearing the end of summer! Our summer has certainly looked very different than usual without our Arroyo Adventure Summer Camp, community volunteer events, movie nights, and more. However, our team has been working hard to ensure that the Center is ready to thrive once we are able to safely reopen our doors.
With this being said, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the Center will be getting an entirely new roof and solar system installed! As some of you may know, this is a much-needed update that will allow the Center to function much more effectively. We are thrilled to partner with Grid Alternatives on this project. This construction will extend through the end of this year, which unfortunately brings us to the bad news. The Center will remain closed to the public until at least January 2021. We will continue to keep you all updated and can’t wait to celebrate together once we reopen!
Staff continues to work from home - any questions or concerns can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
All the best,
The Debs Park Team
Debs Park trails remain open! Click here for more info.