This week, I took on the task of planning the Latino Conservation Week (LCW) event for Los Angeles Audubon. I had the idea to do a Bilingual Nature Walk (Paseo de Naturaleza) where the walk is offered in both English and Spanish for the public and community members. I wanted to provide the Spanish option for the public since Latinx people make up 49% of Las Angeles’ total population, according to the U.S Census Bureau. Although Latinx people make up a majority of the population in Los Angeles, those that use these local greenspaces within the city are prodominatly Caucasian . One participation barrier that the Latinx population faces is a language barrier. In parks, there are little to no signs in Spanish, making it difficult for Spanish speakers to navigate the parks and participate in outdoor activities. In addition, transportation and park fees seem to be a barrier for the Latinx community. I chose to lead this walk at Kenneth Hahn on a weekday, when there are no park fees and there are trails to walk to the park on foot. One last barrier the community faces is a lack of knowledge of the resources that are available to them. Many people just don’t know that they have a park so close to them. This event is intended to create awareness of this greenspace, located in the middle of the city, and to connect the community to nature.
The day of my LCW event at Kenneth Hahn started off with an introduction to Los Angeles Audubon Society and the work we do within the greater Los Angeles area. Edgar and I went over the plan for the nature walk, which was to visit the native garden to review plant adaptations, walk around the bowl to share the history of the park, and lastly, to hike to the back of the park to explain the harms of using unauthorized trails. We had a total of eight participants come to enjoy the evening birding and learning about Kenneth Hahn’s history. We saw over 10 species of birds and even spotted a few nests! We saw Barn Swallow nestlings in a nest, which we compared to the Hooden Orioles nest. It was such a nice way to end the walk. We closed the evening by talking about the many reasons why we hosted this event in the first place. LCW is to connect Latinx people to these greenspaces and offer a event tailored just for them.
What is the History of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area?
This park used to be the Baldwin Hills Reservoir, which was built between 1947-1951 by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It was built on an active fault line called the Newport-Inglewood fault. This is very dangerous because this fault is constantly moving and can cause dangerous earthquakes. They were fully aware of the dangers of building on this fault because in 1928, the St. Francis Dam failed, killing over 400 people. Ralph Proctor, an engineer that worked on the failed St. Francis Dam, was hired to work on the Baldwin Hills Reservoir. Kind of ironic, right? Although this was a dangerous move, this water source was critical for those living around the Los Angeles area. In 1963, after only 10 years, there were signs of lining failure. The signs were ignored by an engineer that came to check the reservoir and claimed it was normal for small leaks to happen. A local police officer that was aware of the danger took it upon himself to go door-to-door, telling people to leave their homes for their own safety. By doing so, he saved many lives. However, 5 people were still lost as a result of this tragedy. Today, this area is a huge greenspace that is used for recreation.