WhittierNarrows Nature Center
Forthe assigned field project, I chose the Whittier Narrows NatureCenter. The Nature Center is a wildlife sanctuary located on a320-acre piece of land within the Whittier Narrows Recreation Areawhich is a 1,400-acre riparian woodland. The area is a home to overforty species of birds (Long, 47) and consists of four lakes and ariverside ecosystem. A region is a favorable place for humanrecreation as often characterized by some activities. Water foulsfrequent the area during their migration. Other animals common in thearea include the mountain lion and the bobcat.
WhittierNarrows Nature Center is found in the South El Monte area, SanGabriel Valley, which is situated in the Los Angeles. The area isreachable thus favorable for me. In fact, it is less than twentymiles from my home. It has different species of vegetation and ischaracteristically green. From an aerial view, the place is seen tohave numerous trees which are both natural and planted, variousbushes, and a terrain that resembles that of the desert. Among thetrees identified are Coast Live Oak, Alder, Willow, Cottonwood, andSycamore. The bushes were made of Mexican Elderberry, Toyon,Lemonadeberry, and Coffeeberry. Some of these trees are associatedwith the native communities of this region who were hunters andgathers and heavily depended on berries as part of their food. Thecenter is quite hard to identify due to its location. With the externfeatures and the relativity to the neighborhood, one would considerthe center as hidden. The entrance is inconspicuous and ostensiblysmall. However, nature is appealing and attraction to many.
Theexterior is fenced to create a boundary between the nature center andthe outside. This also prevents trespass and prevents cars fromrunning into the facility which might be dangerous to the animals,people and the general nature of the center. The vast land on whichit sits allows the tourists to conduct numerous activities includingnature walks, hikes, ball gaming, biking, and horse riding. Mostnotable structures include the office building and the museumbuilding. The museum enables the visitors to see different types ofsnakes and reptiles in the region, stuffed animals, and birds amongother artifacts. Stories of the place are presented in photographswhich are exhibited at the museum. The photos capture differentevents along the San Gabriel River, offering the visitors somehistorical knowledge of the nature center and its environs. Differentspecial stones that describe the geological characteristics of theregion could also be seen at the museum. Apart from the stuffed deadanimals, live animals are also found at the nature center. Theanimals are displayed, and most of them are endangered, thus in needof care. The geographical terrain of the nature center can bedescribed as varied with both flat and irregular plains. The centeris, however, free of mountains and rocky surfaces. The landscape ofthe nature center is greatly attributed to the San Gabriel Riverwhose location and erosive capabilities are linked to thegeographical nature of the terrain. Other factors that could havecontributed to the character of the landscape include plants andanimals (Shaw, 22). Humans who inhabited the region in the past couldhave also contributed to the reshaping of the land through activitiessuch as deforestation.
Otherthan the natural setting, manmade modifications are also visible.Some of these include ponds, tree nurseries and water points whichare all aimed at reconstructing some of the damaged habitats andregrow some imperiled plant species. During our visit, it came to ourattention that the area closer to the offices and the museum had moretree cover than other regions situated further away into nature. Thearea closer to the offices contained some oak trees which contributedto cool temperature and a pleasant breeze but further away, thetemperatures increased due to the diminishing tree cover. It was,however, evident that plans were underway to rehabilitate the dryareas by planting trees in the regions.
WhittierNarrows Nature Center, established as a center to care for nature andoffer recreation to individuals at a fee, has undergone multiplesteps. The nature center has previously faced financial difficultieswhich even led to questioning of its necessity. The National AudubonSociety purchased the center in 1939who employed their staff to workon the facility. Later in 1970, wasacquired by the County of Los Angeles as a nature center and a sourceof recreation and education to the public. The acquisition of thecenter by the county government meant to restructure the facilityinto a recreation center, a care center for the endangered plant andanimal species and a learning center for students, communities andnature enthusiasts. The mission of the county government was to usethe facility as an inspiration for environmental stewardship throughthe provision of accessible education to the public about theenvironment (County Govt. Los Angeles, n.p).
Duringthe day of the visit, the weather was very favorable. It weather wassunny with a clear sky and a temperature record of 28 degreesCelsius. During the week, the temperature of the place had beenranging between 28 degrees Celsius and 32 degrees Celsius with anaverage precipitation of 0.20mm, clear skies, winds traveling atspeeds reaching 7-9mph moving to the southwest region, and an averagehumidity of 40%. The weather corresponded with spring, which was theactual season at the time of visit. In the region, spring ischaracterized by sunny days with minimal chances of rain. Floods areexperienced in some areas around the during rainy seasons and the river overflows when the rains exceed.During spring, the regions receive the high intensity of the sun.During summer, experiences some humidconditions with pleasant sunshine. Summer is welcomed by the plantsleading to bloom, and animals, drawing them out of hibernation.
The is a home to different animals, birdsand insects as seen during the visit. One would easily spot a lizardcrossing the road or climbing a tree, a woodpecker busy carving ahole into a tree trunk, frogs croaking from the unknown and hawksinspecting the ground from above. There were also hundreds of birdspecies moving around, some of which I had rarely seen. Differentinsects could also be noticed as we ambled on the trails. Among themwere the bees, butterflies, caterpillars, ants, and grasshoppers.From the information at the museum, over three hundred species ofbirds are known to dwell in the nature center. These birds havehowever faced challenges due to human disturbances thus leading tothe establishment of care services by the facility.
TheTongva people initially inhabited the South El Monte area. These werethe Native Americans in the region and were named Gabrielino by thefirst Spanish people that visited the place before colonialism (Vena,n.p). From the records at the museum, we found out that this groupbelonged to the Shoshone tribes of the Great Basin region. Theirprimary economic activity was hunting and gathering, and this couldhave been a contributing factor towards the changing ecosystem in thearea. The river largely contributed to their choice of the place, andthey survived from the wild fruits, berries, small animals such arabbits and the water from San Jose Creek.
CountyGovt. Los Angeles. "Los Angeles County Department of Parks andRecreation-Parks-Full List of Parks-1."LosAngeles County Department of Parks and Recreation-Parks-Full List ofParks-1.N.p., 2015. Web. 10 May 2016.
Long,Michael C. Birdsof the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area: Los Angeles County,California. Associates, 1993.
ShawJ. WhittierNarrows Nature Center and Wildlife Refuge, Los Angeles County,California: Ecosystem Restoration Report.Los Angeles, CA: District, 2000. Print.
VenaLaura. "Shaping the Landscape at | KCET." N.p., 2015. Web. 10 May 2016.