From watering native plants on steep, sunny slopes to hiking the entirety of Ernest E. Debs Park for the Christmas Bird Count, there is never a dull day at the Audubon Center. My time here as the Community Conservation Fellow – also known as CCF – has reignited my appreciation for the local habitat and the ongoing conservation efforts to protect it.
And what exactly does the Community Conservation Fellow do? Well, I am glad you asked!
On some days, I can be found hosting Community Habitat Restorations and teaching people of all backgrounds how to restore habitat for wildlife through the care of native plants. Other days, I am encouraging new birders to take an interest in California’s native biodiversity through bird walks. Being the Community Conservation Fellow means I am constantly interacting with and engaging Los Angelenos about the wonders of our beautiful ecosystem, even inviting them to get their hands in the dirt!
Currently, I am working on creating a new restoration site for the Audubon Center: the Hummingbird Trail. Tucked away at the base of Debs Park and near Griffin Ave, I have been restoring the trail for the past six months, transforming it from a neglected tripping hazard to a whimsical brisk walk. With the help of organizations such as Outward Bound Adventures and our Audubon Youth Leaders, we have successfully cleared the trail of weeds such as black mustard and mulched the once-barren path.
All of this is in preparation for the community event that will occur on February 18th, 2024: the Hummingbird Trail planting day! My hope for this new restoration site is to create an environment for hummingbirds, hence the name of the trail. Utilizing websites such as CalScape and Plants For Birds by Audubon, I compiled a list of native pollinator plants that are all-time hummingbird favorites, like Wooly Blue Curl, California Fuchsia, and different types of Monkey Flower. Our restoration efforts will create an oasis for not only the Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds, but also all the insects and other wildlife essential for preserving local biodiversity. I hope it will become a hummingbird hotspot that our community of people can also enjoy alongside the wildlife!
Another new and exciting project of mine this year is the revitalization of the Los Nogales Nursery. Our mission for this project is to propagate native plants that will eventually contribute to future habitat restorations at Debs Park and Rio de Los Angeles State Park in Cypress Park.
But what does it mean to ‘revitalize’?
The Covid-19 pandemic severely disrupted the work and general maintenance of the nursery. However, now with the help of new staff, interns, and our volunteers, the Los Nogales Nursery is beginning to thrive once more through seed collection, reorganization, transplanting plants, and community effort. Just last week, I hosted a workshop at the nursery for our current Audubon Youth Leaders cohort and the high school students learned how to transplant native plants. They potted up California Bush Sunflower, Sacred Datura, and California Bay and the students gained an understanding of why native plants are not only an important part of our local ecosystems, but an essential part of combatting climate change. I hope to hold workshops like these for the public soon in order to teach and work with our community about the ethics of growing and propagating native plants, but for the time being more learning and work needs to be done.
By the end of this fellowship, I want to inspire at least one person to gain a greater interest in native California plants and wildlife biodiversity. Seeing the beauty in all that the natural world has to offer has made me realize that in this time of high urban development, public nature spaces like Debs Park are hard to come by and protecting these spaces is essential for the wellbeing of not only plants, but people as well!