Discussions and Encounters with Wildlife Highlight Urban Biodiversity

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Descanso Gardens 8-23-2016

Greater Los Angeles is full of wild animals. As the Southland continues to grow, so does the need to support urban biodiversity. Descanso Gardens will address the benefits and challenges of living with wildlife at the L.A. Wildlife Symposium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17. Sophie Parker, senior scientist at the Nature Conservancy, will discuss the importance of urban wildlife and new methods for urban conservation in Greater Los Angeles.

Experts will discuss the latest wildlife discoveries in the region, how to support wildlife through smart gardening practices and how “citizen science” projects help humans to understand better the natural world. Miguel Ordeñana, known for his work with local “celebrity” mountain lion P-22, will discuss big cats and bats. Learn how to decipher mammal tracks and what to do if you encounter local wildlife in your neighborhood. A tour of Descanso Gardens’ Oak Woodland will showcase this heritage landscape of the Los Angeles Basin and the habitat it provides for many animals. The symposium provides an opportunity to encounter reptiles, amphibians, spiders and insects as well.

“Biodiversity is vital to the Gardens and landscape,” said Rachel Young, Director of Horticulture and Garden Operations at Descanso Gardens. “The relationships between plants and animals shape all of our habitats, from the scrub jay planting an acorn that grows into an oak tree, to that oak tree in turn providing habitat and food for thousands of species of mammals, birds, insects and fungi. I am excited to introduce people to all the wildlife we have at Descanso, and in urban and wild areas in the Los Angeles Basin.”

The L.A. Wildlife Symposium is free with admission to Descanso Gardens ($9 for adults; $6 for seniors 65 and older and students with a school I.D.; $4 for children 5 to 12, and free for age 4 and younger). Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. Workshops are subject to change. Find details at descansogardens.org or phone (818) 949-4200.

The program schedule includes:

• Planning for Urban Wildlife Conservation, 9 a.m., Sophie Parker, Nature Conservancy: Parker discusses the importance of urban wildlife and her work on the Los Angeles River. Parker is a senior scientist creating new planning methods for urban conservation in Greater Los Angeles.
• L.A. Wildlife: What’s Out There, 10:15 a.m., Brian Brown, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County: Scientists from the Urban Nature Research Center share the latest discoveries about local wildlife, including sometimes surprising findings from projects on bugs, lizards, spiders, squirrels, snails, slugs and more.
• Oak Woodland Walk, 11 a.m., Layla Valenzuela, Descanso Gardens: Explore Descanso’s Oak Woodland, a wildlife restoration site.
• Gardening for Wildlife, 11:45 a.m., Lisa Novick, Theodore Payne Foundation: Native plants are essential to support biodiversity in animals and insects. Learn how to revitalize your greenspace with native plants that support wildlife, including butterflies, baby birds and other critters.
• Citizen Science: Involving the Community, 1 p.m., Richard Smart, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County: Citizen science projects provide amazing opportunities for people of all ages to better understand the natural world. Smart will share examples of community engagement and the discoveries that have come from public contributions to scientific studies.
• Big Cats & Bats: Urban Mammals in L.A., 2:15 p.m., Miguel Ordeñana, wildlife biologist: Ordeñana will discuss mountain lions, bats and other wildlife he studies in the city and surrounding mountains.

Other symposium highlights:

• Live animal encounter, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Get a close-up look at some of the reptiles and amphibians that make their home in Southern California.
• Live bug encounter, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Discover the amazing diversity of spiders and insects in our region.
• Los Angeles Zoo, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Do an activity with the L.A. Zoo Classroom Safari Program.
• Mammal tracks, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Wildlife biologist Thea Wang shows you how to tell what animals are in your area by looking at their tracks.
• Wildlife Watch Program, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.: California Department of Fish and Wildlife volunteers will talk about local wildlife and what to do when you encounter a wild animal in your neighborhood.

About Descanso Gardens

Founded as a public garden in 1953, Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. Descanso Gardens is open daily (closed Christmas) from9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults; $6 for seniors and students with a school I.D.; $4 for children 5 to 12, and free for ages 4 and younger.

Descanso Gardens is a member-supported garden accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Join Descanso Gardens and enjoy free admission and early entry year-round. Information: (818) 949-4200 or descansogardens.org.


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