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Native plants in more yards could go a long way toward supporting local wildlife

Native plants in more yards could go a long way toward supporting local wildlife
Native and drought-tolerant plants grow in Tongva Park in Santa Monica in 2015. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Urban wildlife populations are maintained not only by open space and wildlife corridors, but also by native plant habitat in our yards. ("Los Angeles needs open space for wildlife and for our sanity," editorial, Jan. 16)

Native landscaping is one of the "less dramatic and less costly ways to help animals survive." If more Angelenos added native sage, buckwheat, lilac, oak and other species to their yards, we could make habitat citywide. Native plants are essential because they're the foundation of the food web due to co-evolutionary relationships with wildlife.

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Right now, a limiting factor in creating habitat is lack of widespread availability of native plants. (Conventional nurseries profit from the soil amendments, fertilizers and pesticides needed by nonnatives.) Investing a few million dollars would go a long way toward establishing more native nurseries across Los Angeles, and the benefit to wildlife and people would be immense: decreased water use, increased health of our watershed, and support of Southern California's beautiful and amazing biodiversity.

Lisa Novick, La Cañada Flintridge

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The writer is director of outreach for the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants.

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To the editor: Thank you for highlighting the need for developers and Los Angeles officials to preserve the natural open space that's so important to community well-being and the very existence of wild animals living alongside us.

That concept should apply across our region, yet just last month, the city of Temecula greenlighted the Altair development, which will severely constrain a wildlife corridor critical to the survival of the Santa Ana mountain lions. These lions already suffer the lowest genetic diversity of any California population, and scientists warn that Altair could be the final nail in their coffin.

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Meanwhile, in northern L.A. County, Tejon Ranch is seeking entitlements to build the massive Centennial sprawl project, which will destroy some of California's last remaining native grasslands.

To save our region's besieged bastions of biodiversity, local governments need to ensure new development does not take us backward.

J.P. Rose, Santa Monica

The writer is a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

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