Environmental Education Program, Ballona Wetlands
The Ballona Wetlands, located in Playa del Rey, are one of the last functioning tidal wetlands in Los Angeles, and are a Crown Jewel of coastal southern California. Acquired by the State of California in 2005, Ballona is a designated Ecological Reserve, and is recognized by scientists to be a global “hotspot” of biological diversity. The wetlands are used by both local and migratory species, and contain both plants and animals unique to a salt marsh habitat and unique to southern California.
Ballona Wetlands with high tide.
The Los Angeles Audubon Ballona Wetlands Education Program was started in 1989 to introduce students to the wonders of wetland ecosystems. Our target audience is grades 3-5, with an emphasis on outreach to underserved, mostly inner city schools. During the 2008-2009 school year, we hosted over 2200 students from 30 different schools in the Greater Los Angeles area!
Evi's Acmon on Buckwheat (the beautiful white and spotted butterfly on the red/orange/pink/white buckwheat)
The students learn about the wetland ecosystem through various activities during their field trip. Telescopes are available at the Bird Station on Ballona Creek, allowing children to closely observe the birds in their natural habitat. This is a perfect spot for them to discuss migratory patterns, as Ballona is a critical rest stop on the Pacific Flyway. At the Microscope Station, students view the small marine invertebrates that are found in the tidal channels of the wetland. At the Restoration Station, students learn about native versus non-native plants and get an opportunity to remove introduced plants that are detrimental to the habitat. The students’ work at this station has greatly aided in our restoration of the quite rare and sensitive coastal dune habitat, located at the west end of the site.
July Butterfly Count yields a damsel fly (damsel fly on pickleweed)
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See Also: Western Tanager Highlights