For Immediate Release: June 28, 2022
COUNCIL ADOPTS MOTION TO DEVELOP REGIONWIDE WILDLIFE CONNECTIVITY MASTER PLAN
LOS ANGELES -- Today, Council unanimously adopted a motion introduced by Councilmember Nithya Raman and co-presented by Councilmembers Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian, Monica Rodriguez, Mike Bonin, and John Lee, to develop a comprehensive regional wildlife habitat connectivity master plan in partnership with neighboring jurisdictions and organizations, pooling resources, staff, funding, and expertise to ensure that regional efforts aimed at protecting native wildlife are not enacted in silos. The motion also directs the Department of City Planning to present a detailed plan to ensure that the planned Wildlife ordinance, currently under discussion and formulation, addresses the needs of wildlife protection throughout the City. The City has already made a commitment to funding the staff necessary to complete the project in its final 2022-2023 City budget.
In May 2021, Los Angeles became the largest City to be certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a biodiversity haven. However, evidence shows that in addition to climate change, a primary driver of wildlife extinction is habitat loss and fragmentation caused by uncoordinated and poorly-sited development and the lack of safe wildlife crossings across freeways and roads. With this legislation, the City will be required to work with neighboring jurisdictions to develop a Regionwide Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Master Plan encompassing LA County and Ventura County, connecting the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's Eastern Santa Monica Mountains Natural Resource Protection Plan to the Rim of the Valley to the LA River and Arroyo Seco and the Verdugo and San Gabriel Mountains, and beyond.
“I have the distinct honor of representing Hollywood’s most beloved mountain lion, P-22, who ten years ago completed an Odyssey-like journey, crossing the 405 and the 101, trekking over 20 miles to reach his new home of Griffith Park,” said Councilmember Raman. “The reality is that wildlife simply doesn’t adhere to jurisdictional boundaries. We need to let the needs of the environment guide both our conservation work and our development, and that is why we need an interconnected regional effort.”
“The building of the Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing is essential for the long-term survival of our Southern California Mountain lions and other wildlife,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, author of the original City of Los Angeles wildlife corridors legislation, “but we must not stop there if we are to be truly successful. We must combine all the forward-thinking, but heretofore unconnected, conservation efforts in the area for a truly regional approach that will set a global standard for conservation in an urban environment.”
“Six years ago, when we established a Wildlife Corridor in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains, I amended the Committee’s report to include a study of adding the Rim of the Valley Corridor as a wildlife habitat linkage zone,” said Councilmember Krekorian. “With the addition of Rim of the Valley, we move one step closer to creating a regional wildlife habitat corridor, from Ventura County to the San Gabriel mountains and beyond, so our irreplaceable native California species can thrive in their natural home.”
“Co-existing with wildlife such as deer, cougars, bobcats and coyotes makes Los Angeles unique for a large city,” said Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. “A regional wildlife habitat connectivity plan is essential to create a cohesive, equitable plan that will connect corridors in my district such as Rim of the Valley to habitats throughout Southern California.”
“Los Angeles is blessed with a diverse ecology. As caretakers of these resources, we must be good neighbors to the animals that roam the region – and, above all, fight to protect their homes by ensuring greater habitat restoration and connectivity,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “Unifying the regional wildlife connectivity plan and revamping the City’s development standards will do just that, and I’m proud to co-present this important motion.”
Councilmember Lee stated, "I am delighted to join with my colleagues to develop a Regionwide Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Plan. This legislation will go a long way towards promoting the well-being of wildlife and stave off the extinction of our most at-risk animals."
California Senator Henry Stern remarked, “Los Angeles is not only a metropolis, it is a biodiversity hotspot, where our wildland urban interface is often disconnected with freeways and other development, denying millions access to open spaces, and threatening species like the Southern California mountain lion. The State just took a major step forward to rewild LA and secure the right to nature for all with the groundbreaking on the 101 overcrossing at Liberty Canyon, but there are hundreds of additional projects needed if our wild neighbors are going to survive this era.” He added, “Thanks to our city leaders Councilmember Raman and Koretz for bringing the City of LA to the table in our broader push for regional wildlife habitat connectivity with this motion. We cannot rewild LA, achieve our 30x30 goals, or prevent the pending extinction crisis without them.”
"The Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCD) has seen first hand the benefits of coordinated linkage planning throughout its territory in southeastern ventura and southern Los Angeles counties," said Clark Stevens, Architect and Executive Officer of RCD, who will lead the cross-jurisdictional regional effort. "We support the City of LA's habitat connectivity effort as a critical addition to connectivity and biodiversity conservation and enhancement efforts in both the city and region. The specificity of the City's project recognizes that the patterns of existing and potential connectivity are unique to the city, but nevertheless vital to maintaining a full complement of companion species and the many benefits they provide to our communities."
CLAW was founded to present wildlife awareness along with a vision for a connected network of habitat throughout LA City, County and beyond," said Tony Tucci, Co-Founder of Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife. “For thousands of years wildlife has been traversing the Santa Monica Mountains for food, water, shelter and mating opportunities. However, as urban sprawl continues in this region, wildlife routes and pathways are becoming dangerous or even completely blocked. This ambitious motion seeks to protect and restore those connections throughout a wildlife region that doesn’t adhere to jurisdictional boundaries.”
“To begin addressing the extinction crisis, we must do more to preserve wildlife corridors across Southern California,” said Elizabeth Reid-Wainscoat, a campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity. “If policy makers work together to protect wildlife connectivity, especially in urban areas, we’ll have a shot at saving mountain lions, coastal California gnatcatchers and other imperiled animals that have been watching their habitats disappear over the years.”
"The Regional Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Plan can provide a framework to coordinate biodiversity decisions for every parcel in the region, from large wildlife corridors to backyard habitats and green infrastructure," said Isaac Brown, Senior Ecologist for Stillwater Sciences, who will help guide the science behind the effort. "Cheers to the City of LA for continuing its pioneering leadership on this critical conservation topic and helping to bring nature to every neighborhood."
The motion instructs the Department of City Planning, in consultation with LASAN, the Department of Building and Safety, and the City Attorney, to report back on or before October 22, 2022, with a plan for the expansion of the Wildlife Ordinance to cover the additional Protection Areas for Wildlife (PAWs), including the Rim of the Valley areas within the boundaries of the City of Los Angeles.