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Mid-City CAN Blog

Mid-City CAN members learn about City Heights' canyons

 

By Adam Ward

 

Feb. 15, 2011

Singing birds and native plants probably aren't the first thing that most people think of when they picture City Heights. But a group of young Mid-City CAN members discovered that an escape to nature is surprisingly close.

 

 

 

 

San Diego Canyonlands project coordinator Leann Ortmann

Photos by Adam Ward

From left: Raymond Gamez, Angeli Hernandez, Micah Modesto, Mid-City CAN Youth Community Organizer Mark Tran and Cristobal Navarrette listen to San Diego Canyonlands project coordinator Leann Ortmann describing Hollywood Canyon in City Heights. San Diego Canyonlands was teaching approximately 40 interested residents about the canyon's native plants and animals.


flower

Jade plant is one of the invasive, non-native species
in Hollywood Canyon.

Members of San Diego Canyonlands group gave a free tour in late January of Hollywood Canyon. City Heights hides several canyons, providing pockets of nature in its otherwise urban landscape. About 40 interested residents turned out to learn about the canyons and the life they support.

 

For Angeli Hernandez, youth council member, the tour provided a new appreciation of City Heights' green spaces.

 

"I have that place that I can go to and breathe and smell fresh air," Hernandez said. "It's different from a regular park."

 

The event was funded by part of a $104,000 grant from Price Charities to San Diego Canyonlands - to clean up and restore City Heights' Canyons.

 

San Diego Canyonlands tour guides pointed out laurel sumac, mockingbirds, wild

Click for video of Leann Ortmann discussing invasive species

Click for video of Leann Ortmann discussing invasive species.

cucumber and prickly pears. But beyond teaching about plants and birds, the group's underlying message centered on educating community members about the importance of these scarce habitats.

 

"There are more endangered and threatened species in San Diego County than in any other county in the United States," said Eric Bowlby, executive director at San Diego Canyonlands.

 

That sobering fact is due partly to the variety of habitats in the county.

 

"We have these canyons, and these special places for animals to live in the mountains and the desert," said Leann Ortmann, project coordinator at San Diego Canyonlands.

 

During the tour, Ortmann reinforced how fragile the remaining canyons are and gave context about their role in the ecosystem of the entire state.

 

Only a small percentage of wetlands are left in California, Ortmann said.

 

These wetlands, which are considered one of the most diverse habitats, filter urban runoff, cleaning the water and reducing downstream flooding.

 

Besides illustrating the importance of the canyons' role, the tour focused on the group's plan for Hollywood canyon. It includes restoring the canyon by removing nonnative, invasive plants and creating more walkable trails.

 

"These canyons are important for recreation and provide relief from the urban jungle we live in," Ortmann said.

 

bird
A Mockingbird (left) and hummingbird (middle) are some of the life in Hollywood Canyon.   Ceonothus (right) is a native plant.

hummingbird

Ceonothus is a native plant.

Photo by Pam Hayhurst

 

 

 

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