LOS ANGELES, Feb. 12 -- Los Angeles World Airports issued the following news release:
A long-term partnership that began in late September between the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and the Los Angeles Zoo is already proving successful in many ways by: reducing costs for both City departments; diverting "green waste" from landfills; protecting coastal dunes areas; contributing to sustainability goals; and feeding exotic animals one of their favorite foods reminiscent of their native homelands.
The arrangement started with LAWA's implementation of a $3 millionCoastal Dunes Improvement Project, located on 48 acres in the northwest corner of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) property between the airport's north airfield and Dockweiler State Beach, and north of Sandpiper Street. In June 2013, the California Coastal Commission provided final approval of LAWA's permit application for this project to improve the visual appearance of, and plant native vegetation in, the dunes area.
Acres of invasive acacia trees are being removed by airport maintenance workers from the project area. Instead of LAWA transporting this "green waste" to a City recycling site, zoo workers now collect the plants on a weekly basis to feed the zoo's giraffes, elephants, rhinoceros, and other hooved animals. According to zoo staff, almost every part of the acacia tree is edible to one kind of animal or another, and in many parts of the world, their small leaves provide the only greenery during the dry season.
"This project will increase the native plants on the 48-acre site, which was rezoned for nature preserve uses in 1994 by the City of Los Angeles," said LAWA Environmental Services Division Manager Robert Freeman. "This is a great example of LAWA working with the local community and other agencies to achieve a very positive environmental outcome. Preservation of the entire 307-acre LAX Coastal Dunes area is part of LAWA's overall commitment to environmental stewardship at LAX."
"It's always great when City departments can work together cooperatively," said Jeff Holland, Curator of Mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo. "Since October our animals have definitely benefited from the additional supply of acacia. Our giraffes may be the one species that benefit most. The more acacia we are able to provide them, the better their health will be. It's always a challenge to provide these animals with the large amounts they would naturally find in the wild, so it's nice to have the increased supply provided by LAWA."
After completion this year of the LAX Coastal Dunes Improvement Project, continued maintenance of that area plus regular removal of acacia trees and plants from the entire 307-acre LAX Coastal Dunes project will provide an on-going source of acacia for zoo animals. The LAX Coastal Dunes also includes a 200-acre habitat preserve established in 1992 to protect the federally designated endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly.
"We were removing acacia regularly from the adjacent El Segundo Blue Butterfly Preserve," said Ralph Morones, director of the airport's Maintenance Services Division. "We trucked those plants to the City's recycling center, but since we discovered the needs of the zoo, it can all be delivered there."
According to LAWA's Environmental Services staff, the variety of acacia found in the LAX Coastal Dunes Preserve site is one of the world's most significantly invasive species. It is known to take over grasslands and abandoned agricultural areas worldwide, especially in moderate coastal and island regions where mild climate promotes its spread. Acacia is among several non-native and/or invasive plants, including ice plant, sea lavender, castor bean, Russian thistle, jade plant, coreopsis, wild mustard and radishes, and palm trees that must be removed as part of LAX's Coastal Dunes Preserve Management Program.
All major restoration in the 307-acre coastal dunes area is managed by LAWA's Environmental Services Division, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California State Coastal Commission. LAWA also coordinates with other governmental agencies and the public to guide restoration activities and to achieve an outcome that meets the community's ecological, aesthetic, social, political and economic needs.
During the early 20th Century, the El Segundo Dunes - along with other dune systems nearby - were seriously threatened by coastal development. As coastal land began to be cleared for housing tracts, non-native plants were introduced, choking out native species. With the advent of the Jet Age at LAX in 1959, the City of Los Angeles began purchasing the properties and removing the homes for safety and noise reasons.
By the late 1950s, most of the dunes had vanished, along with their native plants and animals. Although the native habitat preserved at LAX comprises less than two percent of the original El Segundo Dunes, it is the largest remaining coastal dune fragment in Southern California.
CC 24CCPandaSan-140213-4635724 24CCPandaSan