LOS ANGELES – Conservation organizations urged Los Angeles City Council today to approve and implement the city’s first wildlife connectivity ordinance to protect endangered animals and crucial open spaces and reduce forest fire risks.
In today’s letter, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and other conservation and community groups applauded city council and the planning department for prioritizing the ordinance and proposed recommendations to better protect biodiversity and wildlife corridors in Los Angeles.
“Preserving wildlife corridors protects endangered animals and limits the risk of fire, so it’s great to see the city take a positive step towards a better future for Angelenos,” said Elizabeth Reid-Wainscoat, activist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Our leaders should view these recommendations as scientific ways to improve a much needed wildlife ordinance.”
In May, the city released a draft wildlife ordinance that aims to preserve the open space between highways 101 and 405 in the eastern mountains of Santa Monica. Protecting these fire-prone hallways is the responsible thing to do as Southern California braces for wildfires that are increasing in frequency and intensity, the groups say.
Almost all contemporary forest fires are caused by power lines, automobile sparks, and other human sources. Development in these wastelands would increase the risk of inflammation and put surrounding communities at serious risk.
“An ordinance that protects this city’s remaining open spaces is long overdue,” said Jim Hines, team leader for the Sierra Club California Wildlife Team. “I hope council members will side with the environment and public health in the face of a more uncontrolled sprawl.”
Protecting open spaces is also important for mountain lions and other wildlife that live in the Santa Monica Mountains. Growing development over the years has reduced wildlife habitat, putting southern California cougars on the brink of extinction.
Some developers have already expressed their opposition to the city’s attempt to guide smart growth in key housing areas.
“This is an opportunity to get it right and develop a policy that truly protects natural areas in Los Angeles,” said Tony Tucci of Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife. “When the wildlife ordinance goes to a vote, I hope city council ignores the distractions and stands up for what’s good for residents and wildlife.”