This past week we've had the pleasure of resuming our habitat enhancement work at Steelhead Park along the LA River! Although we haven't been able to safely resume our community volunteer events at the park, we've had the opportunity to work with youth from the Los Angeles Conservation Corps to help get the job done in the meantime!
For those unfamiliar with Steelhead Park, it's a small pocket park located along the Los Angeles River Greenway Trail in the Elysian Valley neighborhood. It's just off of Oros Street, which was actually the first "green street" in Los Angeles! The residential street incorporates innovative stormwater capture and filtration systems, and the design was the first of it's kind when constructed in 2006-2007. So, our work at Steelhead Park builds on an impressive legacy of environmental stewardship at this site.
Through our habitat enhancement work, we aim to build sustainable and bird-friendly communities through the planting of native plants, removal of invasive species, and ongoing community-based maintenance and stewardship of the land.
This past week we planted 119 native plants in total, including yarrow, hummingbird sage, native grasses, toyon, golden currant, CA wild rose, CA bush sunflower, and more! All plants were grown onsite at the Center in the Los Nogales nursery. We were able to get the plants in the ground just before a few days of much needed rain, so we're extremely hopeful about their rate of survival.
In addition to planting, the crew worked on invasive species removal as well as general park cleaning and upkeep, and they will be returning to the park on a regular basis to continue this work.
So next time you're in the Elysian Valley area or taking a ride along the bike trail, stop by Steelhead Park and check out the new plants! On a nice day, it's a beautiful place to sit and relax. Keep your eye out for thrushes, warblers, finches and more! The frequent bird sightings are a wonderful reminder of why this habitat enhancement work is so important.
One of the most common questions we receive is how to distinguish a Raven from a Crow. Both birds are large, black, loud, extremely smart, and they have similar body shapes. Both birds can be found in California year-round. So, how on earth do you tell these two birds apart??
Don’t worry, we got you covered - our latest Backyard Birding Tips video breaks down exactly how to identify these two common backyard birds. It takes a little bit of practice, but we’re confident you’ll be able to tell whether that big black bird you just saw was a Raven or a Crow in no time!
Birds have no borders and migrate thousands of miles every year.
The project aims to produce an interactive map that uses migratory bird data and stories from people like you to give us a full picture of how birds and people are connected through geography and culture. Check in throughout the year and watch the map grow to include more birds, migration patterns, and stories.
Mapping Migraciones grew from an activity that took place at our Pachanga de las Americas, all the way back in 2019 when we were able to host in-person community events. With Covid-19 limiting our ability to connect with others in person, transitioning the map to a virtual platform seemed like a great way to stay connected through the magic of migration and storytelling. Now that the project is being promoted at a national level, we can provide an even more dynamic picture of migration across the Americas!
A huge piece of this project involves gathering stories from community members. Does your family have a migration story? Are there any particular birds that resonate with you and your journey? We want to hear from you!
Later on, you’ll be able to check out the interactive map to see how your route matches to a migratory bird.
Want a deeper dive? Panels and discussions throughout the year will give you an opportunity to learn more about the joy of migration. Check out the landing page for more info on upcoming webinars and to re-watch previous ones!
We hope this update finds you and your loved ones safe & well! Although last year was certainly difficult, to say the least, the Debs Park team remains optimistic and is looking forward to another year full of restoration, connection, partnership, and community - one in which we'll hopefully be able to safely gather again in person! In the meantime, the Center remains closed to the public and the team continues to work primarily from home. We have some exciting programs and events in the works, including a native plant grant program, virtual education programs, and an upcoming community happy hour!
The Debs Park trails remain open, along with the pedestrian gate off of Griffin Ave.
As always, please contact us at email@example.com with any questions, comments, or concerns.
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.