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Opening a brand new CA State Park in the middle of downtown is no easy feat. Since the acquisition of LASHP in 2001, CA State Parks and the surrounding communities have been hard at work (65 public meetings, establishing park advocacy groups…) to make the grand opening a reality for Los Angeles.
Our Promotoras, a community-based park ambassadors group, are just as excited to open this park! Today, Promotoras bagged and labeled seed packets for LA to “grow with us!” Meet our park leaders at the grand opening!
Residual storm clouds on Monday make a nice backdrop for the new roundhouse bridge which will be a central feature of the new park. And happily, after clearing some construction hurdles and delays due to nesting birds and archaeological finds, construction has picked up steam in recent days. We are on track to have the park finished in December and look forward to an official grand opening in spring of 2016. Stay tuned, we’ll be posting more photos as the welcome center and ranger station near completion and the park takes on its final form.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Patt Morrison, recently spoke with Los Angeles Superintendent Sean Woods regarding his work on the California State Parks Transformation Team, oversight of innovative strategies and initiatives in Los Angeles, and new directions for the Department. Sean was here when State Parks first ventured into the Los Angeles urban core and has been working tirelessly since, to build parks, and share the State Parks mission where it’s needed most. His passion, tenacity, and commitment to park equity have helped transform community visions for abandoned train yards and industrial spaces into the realities of Rio De Los Angeles State Park, The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, and Los Angeles State Historic Park. Read the full interview here in the Los Angeles Times and you’ll understand why Sean is an all around park hero.
Under normal circumstances it’s not unusual to find killdeer nesting in the park this time of year. But the park has been anything but normal since the fence went up and renovation began last April. Nevertheless, the killdeer have persevered! Despite the rumble of heavy equipment and construction, a killdeer pair recently settled down to nest at LASHP. Like the staff archaeologists who have been monitoring construction activity to protect cultural resources, we have environmental scientists on staff looking after our nest and wildlife. Once the nest was discovered, a wide perimeter was established giving the killdeer a safe space to incubate their eggs. On May 11 the mother killdeer was spotted sitting on her eggs. On May 12, chicks!
Killdeer nest on the ground and spotting a nest with the naked eye isn’t easy. The eggs really blend in with gravelly locations that the birds prefer. You’ll know a nest is near if you notice a pair of killdeer making noise and scurrying excitedly around. They do this to lure predators away from their nesting location. One of the birds will pretend to have a broken wing, flapping about on the ground, further and further from the nest. Quite a fascinating charade and interesting adaptive behavior. Here is a nest with four eggs found just yesterday at Rio de Los Angeles State Park.
While park construction forges ahead, state archaeologists are on-site monitoring all this activity and keeping eyes peeled for any new artifacts or structures that might surface. The photo above shows the site of a trash pit discovered early on during construction and located near the footprint of the old Pacific Hotel. Artifacts gathered from the pit include pieces of dishware, ink bottles, and oil lamps. Heavy equipment and grading in this area were halted long enough for archaeologists to survey the site and gather artifacts. They date most of these recent finds to the late 1800’s, concurrent with the Los Angeles River Station – the first passenger depot in Los Angeles and the western terminus of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Though most of the major site grading is complete, archaeologists will remain on-site throughout construction. Next up should be the frames of our new welcome center and ranger station. Check back for photos and an update on the bridge construction already visible in the center of the park.
The Interpretive Media Laboratory at Los Angeles Historic Site (UCLA –IMLab) has unveiled its mobile website (http://lashp-trails.org) along with an interactive sculptural trailhead located below the historic Broadway Bridge on Baker Street. The goal of the mobile website is to engage users in participatory exploration of the community surrounding LASHP via their smartphones. The trailhead, known as “Wellspring” is a sculpture created by local artists Michael Parker and Troy Rounseville using all recycled material from Los Angeles State Historic Park and referencing the “Zanja Madre” or mother ditch, which brought water from the Los Angeles River to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the birthplace of modern Los Angeles. The mobile website can only be activate from this location and guides users to discovery spots with historical information and pictures, and also suggests creative opportunities exercise along the curated routes.
A compass/ arrow navigation tool points its users to hot spots along the three curated routes. The Park Rim Trail is 3 ½ miles, El Pueblo/ Chinatown is 4.5 miles Trail, and for the more adventurous there is the 6.5 mile Trail which loops through Elysian Park. During the demonstration walk, the crowd explored 3 Hotspots showing information about the Buena Vista Viaduct (Historical North Broadway Bridge), The LA River Station, and the Flat Iron/ Ice House building which was instrumental in the agricultural boom of California. The goal of LASHP-Trails is not only to promote physical activity, but to engage individuals with their city’s history and prompt consideration of this city’s future. Ultimately, the goal is for the public to tell their own stories about Urban Los Angeles and help establish a network of interconnected urban trails. UCLA and State Parks see the mobile website evolving to become a community authoring system. This would allow individuals to add their own stories and histories related to place and curate their own trails tailored to specific interests.
Park Interpretive Staff at Los Angeles State Historic Park are offering demonstrations as well as short guided walks using lashp-trails.org. Please contact: Luis Rincon (323)441-8819 or email: Luis.Rincon@parks.ca.gov if you would like a demonstration. Hope to see you on the trails!