In case you haven’t heard, LA is soon to be home to the largest wildlife bridge on the planet. That’s right, a bridge that’s some 30 years in the making will span 10 lanes of Highway 101 at Liberty Canyon. The 200-foot-high nature bridge will reconnect a segment of the Santa Monica Mountains and an entire ecosystem that has been disrupted by roads and urban sprawl that has led to habitat loss and fragmentation, which has contributed to steady decline and near extinction of the California mountain lion.
Habitat loss and fragmentation definition
At the annual P-22 Day Festival and Urban Wildlife Week in October to celebrate urban environmentalism and “the Brad Pitt” of California mountain lions—a handsome LA cougar affectionately known as P-22 who has his own Facebook page—Give Wildlife a Brake caught up with the co-director of CLAW (Citizens of Los Angeles for Wildlife), Andrew Lasken, to learn more about the wildlife corridor movement in California. CLAW is leading the way in promoting wildlife protection and also educating the public about the importance of connected habit for wildlife, in Los Angeles and beyond.
Lasken provides a great habit loss and fragmentation definition in this short video clip and also mentions simple solutions for developers, such as “buffers” (not building all the way back to the edge of a plot, but leaving room for animals to move about).
What CLAW is doing to make wild “life” better
- Connected habitat advocacy. The organization has been instrumental in advocating for a Wildlife Habitat Linkage Zone—to bring attention to open space habitat on private land that could potentially be developed and further disrupt already fragile habitat in the region.
- Land preservation for wildlife corridors. Another massive success in reversing habitat loss and fragmentation was the Let’s Buy a Mountain campaign, a coordinated effort between CLAW and conservation partners. A wildlife cam documented myriad species of animals using an existing wildlife corridor, providing evidence for the need to maintain the land as connective habitat. Through fundraising, the organizations were able to purchase 17 acres of land in the Hollywood Hills that will be preserved for generations to come.
- Conservation easements. This is an agreement that restricts land from being developed. It is sometimes called a conservation covenant—and it is a binding agreement between current landowners as well as future owners of the land, to ensure the property remains undeveloped.
- Acting as a wildlife corridor monitor in the city of Los Angeles. Whenever there is urban planning and development, CLAW is keeping a careful watch for whether the LA Planning Department is taking into consideration wildlife habitat connectivity and any impact that development might have.
Habitat loss and fragmentation in your own backyard
On the CLAW website you can find suggestions for how to facilitate wildlife movement on your own property. Sometimes a simple change to fencing or landscaping can improve the flow for animals that need to get to food, shelter and potential mates.
National Wildlife Federation also has a really cool certification program where you can have your own backyard certified as a wildlife habitat. It involves growing native plants, providing safe places to hide from predators, and using sustainable practices.
Like this article? Share it with your wildlife advocate friends! And let us hear your thoughts on habitat loss and fragmentation. What do you think of the kinds of solutions CLAW has already been a part of?