The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Annenberg Foundation are working to bring an interpretive center to the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. Today, along with the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (SMBRC), CDFW and the Foundation entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to begin planning the center in hopes construction will begin in 2014.
“We hope this center will become a place where community members can come to learn how nature works, and how each of them is a part of it,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This effort is the kind of legacy project we need, with education programs to help instill a sense of stewardship in these urban communities that might otherwise not be fulfilled.”
Though details are still being worked out, and subject to variation pending the outcome of environmental review, concepts for the possible 46,000 square foot building include an auditorium, classrooms, a public lobby, exhibits on wildlife and domestic animals, facilities for an animal adoption and care program, veterinary facilities for animals on site, retail space, parking and office space for staff.
Educational goals for the facility are outlined in the MOU and are based on responsible natural resource stewardship. The proposed interpretive center would educate visitors on:
- The ecological importance of the wetlands, its native habitat and how the community can interact with it in a responsible, respectful way;
- Responsible treatment of animals;
- Human-wildlife interactions and how to minimize conflicts, including pet owner responsibilities at the urban-wildland interface;
- The cultural history of the area including the ways that the Native Americans incorporated wildlife and animals into their lives; and
- Other educational messages about the importance of wetlands and conserving and protecting wildlife and their habitats.
A key goal of the Foundation will be to provide support for existing programs at Ballona Wetlands, such as educational tours and volunteer opportunities. But the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands remains a CDFW, SCC and SMBRC project. The draft state and federal (California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act) environmental documents will be out for public review around spring or early summer 2013.
The concept under consideration would create public access to a neglected portion of the wetlands not currently accessible to the general public. Local community meetings have commenced and will continue providing feedback that will help shape the proposal.
The emerging partnership with CDFW, SCC and SMBRC is a model of a productive public/private partnership that leverages the strengths and resources of each other. The Annenberg Foundation is committed to creating compelling community-serving space in Los Angeles as demonstrated through the Annenberg Community Beach House and the Annenberg Space for Photography.
Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. The Foundation and its Board of Directors are also directly involved in the community with innovative projects that further its mission to advance the public well-being through improved communication. The Foundation encourages the development of effective ways to share ideas and knowledge.