Right now, Los Angeles County residents have a once-in-generation opportunity to ensure funding for parks and open space. Not only will Measure A will have all kinds of benefits for birds in terms of funding for habitat creation and restoration, but its value to residents will be immeasurable.
Here at the Audubon Center at Debs Park in Highland Park, the issue of park funding is critical. As you may know, the center is located in Ernest E. Debs Park, the fourth largest park in the City of Los Angeles. More people are visiting the park today than ever before, yet funding to care for and maintain the park is at a low. With climate change and drought, the fauna in the park is suffering. Many of our trees are dying, including an alarming number of California natives. Black walnuts and California sycamores seem to be the two species that are impacted the most. A large number of oaks are stressed and without proper attention to our open space, the possibility of losing more wildlife habitat is a real possibility. The city is doing its best to maintain the recreation area and facilities, but I fear that the situation task is overwhelming the Recreation and Parks Department.
Ernest E. Debs Park is nearly 300 acres of open space in an urban environment – a vital resource for residents to experience nature and the outdoors. The park has two entrances. One is off Griffin Avenue, where the Audubon Center at Debs Park is located. The other is off of Monterey Road, and this is the main entrance to the park. These two areas are the only areas where visitors can park, use restroom facilities, and get a drink of water. Graffiti abatement, trash clean-up, and habitat restoration are all priorities. Without proper upkeep of these amenities, visitors will stop valuing the park and we’ll see a decline in community members visiting. That will have real consequences for the community in terms of public health and social enrichment.
One of Audubon’s historical achievements has been its role in connecting people with nature. Measure A will directly address these needs in Ernest E. Debs Park, and that’s why Audubon California fully endorses this important ballot measure.
Marcos Trinidad is the director of the Audubon Center at Debs Park.