CLAW envisions a connected network of habitat throughout the Santa Monica Mountains, and beyond.
For thousands of years, wildlife has been traversing the Santa Monica Mountains along well-established migratory patterns in order to find food, water, shelter, and mating opportunities.
As urban sprawl spreads through this region, access to these routes becomes blocked or dangerous.
Freeways, roads, buildings, and fencing create physical barriers to animal movement, causing the remaining undeveloped land to become isolated "islands" of habitat.
Cramped into small areas, inbreeding occurs, which negatively affects the gene pool of the local population. Unable to expand into new habitat, territorial animals may fight and kill each other more frequently.
Animals become pushed out of their natural habitat, becoming nuisances in our neighborhoods, and risking collisions with cars.
Escape routes from wildfires may disappear. If the local population does not survive a fire, the animals will not be able to return to the affected habitat and repopulate the area.
Without connectivity between habitat blocks, animals have reduced access to food and mating partners.
(Image: Graphic showing various statistics, if I can find compelling ones worth discussing)
These are all symptoms of habitat fragmentation.
The solution is habitat connectivity. This can be achieved through wildlife corridors, such as freeway overpasses, or by maintaining natural open space that connects habitat blocks.
What CLAW is doing
CLAW is taking a multi-pronged approach to protecting connected habitat blocks in Los Angeles
-Wildlife Habitat Ordinance: CLAW successfully advocated for the City of Los Angeles to designate the eastern Santa Monica (between the 405 and 101 freeways) as a Wildlife Habitat Linkage Zone. Any new housing within this designated zone must be developed in a way that does not impinge on wildlife movement or existing corridors.
-Land acquisition: CLAW fundraised over $1.6 million to acquire 17 acres of critical habitat in Laurel Canyon in our Let's Buy A Mountain campaign. CLAW's nature cam (link) documented the use of this land by multiple species of animals, including mountain lion and gray fox. This land, one of the largest parcels in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains, is a keystone portion of an established wildlife corridor.
-Conservation Easements: CLAW holds conservation easements on multiple pieces of land in the Santa Monica Mountains. These easements are binding agreements that ensure the land will remain natural and undeveloped in perpetuity.
What you can do
-Look at a map of your property and consider whether it facilitates wildlife movement between nearby open space. If your house may be blocking connectivity between habitat hubs, consider making changes to your fencing or landscaping in order to better accommodate wildlife movement.
-If you would like to protect natural land on your property, consider a conservation easement. This is a binding agreement that a given portion of land will never be developed upon. Conservation easements may provide you with a tax benefit.
-Support council file?
-Donate to our (next LBAM project?) and support our efforts to protect existing habitat blocks as nature preserves.