In the hills overlooking the San Fernando Valley directly above the town of Chatsworth is a 1325 acre nature preserve. It used to be a reservoir and major water storage facility for the city of Los Angeles from 1920 – 1950. The nature preserve is only open to the public one day a year in April to celebrate Earth Day.
It was drained in 1972 shortly after the Sylmar earthquake for safety reasons and is owned by the Department of Water and Power. The old reservoir was designated a nature preserve in 1994 and is now the home of over 200 species of birds, coyotes, rabbits, fox, raccoon, bobcats deer, and an occasional mountain lion.
For several hours, we’re allowed to enter, go on guided hikes and visit vendor booths that include the Audubon Society, Neighborhood Council and other environmentally conscious groups in the San Fernando Valley The celebration is blessed during an opening ceremony by a Native American Indian from the Chumash – Tongva tribe, the original inhabitants of the area.
Click images to view full-size.
The dry lakebed is now a vast savannah with grassland, trees, and an ecology pond.
It suffered greatly during the drought. For a while, the pond completely dried up and the animals and birds were left high and dry.
The neighborhood fought with the DWP to fill up the pond, but because of the water shortage, it wasn’t considered to be a priority. El Nino filled it up again, at least temporarily.
The nature preserve is also a sacred land for the Chumash and Tongva tribes. A centuries-old kiln, called the Chatsworth Calera still stands and was used to make bricks and construction materials for the San Fernando Mission and other buildings after the Mexican takeover of California.
The Ten Commandments, Karate Kid, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, and Dukes of Hazzard are but a few of the films and television shows that used the area as a film location.
I’ve been to the Chatsworth Nature Preserve Earth Day celebration twice and look forward to it every year. The DWP and some city officials want to turn it into a golf course, real estate development, or other project but, so far, the neighborhood has fought to keep it as it is. It’s a serene and protected area for wildlife and vegetation to be free from exploitation in the midst of our urban environment.
Canadian Geese often sunbathe on the shore of the ecology pond.
Click images to view full-size.
During their migration, they can be spotted in large clusters on the savannah from the roadway.
Native American Blessing – Earth Day 2015 – Video
The beauty of the nature preserve reminds us to take care of our environment even if it simply means picking up trash. I miss the “Don’t be a Litterbug” ad campaign that came out in 1961. It made a huge impact on me. That campaign and my Girl Scout training taught me to always leave a place cleaner than when you came. So many people toss garbage onto our roadways and parks and never once think about the damage they’re doing to our environment.
Earth Day Walk
About Earth Day
The first Earth Day rallies took place in 1970. The idea came into being after the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 and was inspired by the student anti-war movement. Its founder was Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. senator from Wisconsin.
For ideas on how you can make a difference, click here.
How do you commemorate Earth Day? Please leave a comment below.