LOS ANGELES— Conservation organizations urged the Los Angeles City Council today to approve and implement the city’s first wildlife connectivity ordinance to protect imperiled animals and crucial open space and reduce wildfire risk.
In today’s letter, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and other conservation and community groups applauded the city council and planning department for prioritizing the ordinance and offered recommendations to better protect biodiversity and wildlife corridors in Los Angeles.
“Preserving wildlife corridors protects imperiled animals and curbs fire risk, so it’s great to see the city taking a positive step toward a better future for Angelenos,” said Elizabeth Reid-Wainscoat, a campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Our leaders should consider these recommendations as science-based ways to improve upon a much-needed wildlife ordinance.”
In May the city released a draft wildlife ordinance that aims to preserve the open space between the 101 and 405 freeways in the eastern Santa Monica mountains. Protecting these fire-prone corridors is the responsible thing to do as Southern California braces for wildfires that are growing in frequency and intensity, the groups say.
Nearly all contemporary wildfires are caused by power lines, car sparks and other human sources. Developing in these wildlands would increase ignition risk and place surrounding communities in grave danger.
“An ordinance that protects the remaining open space in this city is long overdue,” said Jim Hines, team leader of the Sierra Club California Wildlife Team. “I hope council members side with the environment and public health over more unchecked sprawl.”
Protecting open space is also important for mountain lions and other wildlife who call the Santa Monica mountains home. Encroaching development through the years have cut into wildlife habitat, putting Southern California cougars on the brink of extinction.
Some developers have already voiced opposition to the city’s attempt to guide smart growth in key habitat areas.
“This is an opportunity to get it right and craft a policy that truly protects L.A.’s natural areas,” said Tony Tucci of Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife. “When the wildlife ordinance is up for a vote, I hope the city council ignores the distractions and sides with what’s good for residents and wildlife.”