The Flora, Fauna and Controversies of the Sepulveda Basin

Chapter Fall Program

A World Class Urban Restoration Project
The Flora, Fauna and Controversies of the Sepulveda Basin
Presented by Steve Hartman

Saturday, November 5, 2016 at 7 pm

Social time and doors open at 6:30 pm
College of the Sequoias – Ponderosa Lecture Hall
(Free Parking in Lot #4 on NE Corner of Campus)
915 S Mooney Blvd, Visalia, California


Author and dedicated conservationist, Steve Hartman is a dynamic speaker, who is a native of Van Nuys, and has spent more than three decades watching the native flora and fauna return to the Sepulveda Basin. He has served on the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area’s Steering Committee (sponsored by L.A. City Recreation and Parks) since its inception. He has also served on numerous conservation and restoration projects throughout the state. He is currently President of the Board of Directors for CNPS

In 1990, the City of Los Angeles set aside the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve to protect native plants and animals. Over 200 species of birds have been seen in the basin. Many birds, attracted by the water, gather here in the fall and winter.

photo © Steve Hartmanphoto © Steve Hartman


Thousands of native plants have been planted in the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve. Many other plants have volunteered — meaning grew on their own from seeds, underground shoots, or from broken pieces of plant that rooted and took hold. While certain native plants have volunteered (coyote bush, mulefat, California walnut, elderberry, western ragwort, and mugwort), many non-native plants have also taken advantage of disturbed soils or the remoteness of certain areas to invade, and in some cases, threaten to take over the landscape. There are approximately 100 native California plants found in the Wildlife Reserve, and probably an equal number of non-native plants and weedy species.    Since the Reserve is located in a flood control basin that does indeed flood, weed management will be an ongoing practice: every time the Basin floods, every weed seed (and native seed as well) in the upper Los Angeles River watershed gets caught in the Basin. As the flood waters recede, a one-half to one-inch layer of silt is left, covering up every portion of the
Basin that was flooded. This silt layer is the perfect example of exposed disturbed soil, the kind of condition that weed seeds are highly adapted to and thus can easily germinate…that is, if the seeds are also exposed to light. So weed management will be a continuing effort in the Basin.

There are scant historical records depicting the habitat of the Sepulveda Basin before it was dammed in the 1940’s. While the soft-bottomed portion of the Los Angeles River has always been a “wildlife area,” it wasn’t until the late 1970’s when the Army Corp of Engineers began to revegetate the east portion of the Sepulveda Basin with California native plants. Since then, the 200-acre Wildlife Reserve was established and the Bull Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project was completed. Alas, in December of 2012, the Army Corp destroyed 43 acres of wildlife habitat.

Located in the San Fernando Valley near the intersection of the 101 and 405 Freeways, the 2,000-acre Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area is a flood control basin managed by the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks. Features include two parks, an 80-acre sports field, an archery range, three 18-hole golf courses, Balboa Lake with boat rentals and fishing, the Balboa Park and Sports Center, playgrounds, a velodrome, bike paths, hiking trails, tennis courts, a Japanese garden, an off-leash dog park, a premiere wildlife preserve, and the only unpaved stretch of the Los Angeles River.

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