Bike rides, tree plantings mark Earth Day events

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — City Councilwoman Nithya Raman, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the nonprofit Friends of Griffith Park celebrated Earth Day belatedly April 23 with a morning of planting, hiking and more at Griffith Park.

The day began with Raman making remarks and volunteers planting 100 ferns along the Fern Dell stream bed. The Department of Recreation and Park’s ecologist Courtney McCammon also led a guided nature hike.

Raman’s office also hosted an open-air Eco Village fair featuring the nonprofit LA Compost, the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance, the nonprofit Habits of Waste, L.A. Sanitation and Environment/RecycLA, South Coast Air Quality Management District, the L.A.-based women-led collective Narrated Objects, the nonprofit school of field environmental philosophy Biocitizen, and the community garden At the Birdhouse.

Most Earth Day events were held April 22 with President Joe Biden issuing a proclamation encouraging “all Americans to participate in programs and activities that will deepen their understanding of environmental protection, the urgency of climate change, and the need to create a healthier, safer, more equitable future for all people.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a ground-breaking ceremony for a wildlife crossing project over the Ventura (101) Freeway designed to provide relief for landlocked mountain lions and other animals in Southland mountains.

The $85 million Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing is envisioned as the largest crossing of its kind in the world, spanning 210 feet over 10 lanes of highway and pavement. It is also the first to be significantly funded through private donations along with public support.

The crossing in Agoura Hills is being developed following 20 years of studies from the National Park Service that found roads and urban development are deadly for animals trying to navigate the Los Angeles area.

Urban development has also created islands of habitats that can genetically isolate the region’s animals.

Beth Pratt, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation — which led the campaign for the wildlife crossing — said: “We are so honored … with all who looked at this impossible dream and said, … we are not going to let this mountain lion population go instinct on our watch.”

Researchers have estimated that the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains could become extinct within 50 years without an influx of genetic diversity. The lions are largely isolated due to freeways that act as barriers to movement across the region.

The crossing aims to provide a connection between the small population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and the larger and genetically diverse populations to the north.

“It’s about restoring a sense of balance to our natural world. It is about bringing more attention to an ingenius solution so urban wildlife and ecosystems like this one can not only survive but thrive,” said Wallis Annenberg, chairman of the Annenberg Foundation and the wildlife crossing’s namesake.

The crossing is named for Annenberg, as his foundation is a major financial contributor to the effort. The effort is a public-private partnership that includes Caltrans, the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy/Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains and the National Wildlife Federation.

 

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