Gates to an urban Eden
10 Images

The Chatsworth Nature Preserve

Roger Jeka with the L.A. Department of Water and Power locks the gates to the Chatsworth Nature Preserve, site of a proposed wetlands mitigation plan. Environmental groups led by the Southwest Herpetologists Society and the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society are fighting Los Angeles’ proposal to transfer control of the preserve from the DWP to the Department of Recreation and Parks. They contend that such a move would adversely effect an unusually diverse collection of reptiles and amphibians in the area.
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Jarron Lucas with the Southwest Herpetologists Society checks out a chalk dudleya echeveria plant inside the 1,300-acre Chatsworth Nature Preserve. “You never know what you’re going to find out here,” he said. “There’s no place like it in the city. We can’t afford to lose it.”
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Lucas holds an adult female red racer snake that was found underneath some weathered wood panels. The preserve in the northwestern San Fernando Valley is rich in wildlife.
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Lucas, center, of the herpetologists society, walks in the preserve with Mark Osokow, left, and Arthur Langton of the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society. Republic Services Inc. aims to establish 44 acres of riparian and wetland habitat within the property to mitigate the loss of similar habitat at its Sunshine Canyon Landfill near Sylmar.
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After a heavy spring rain, ponds in the preserve are black with toad tadpoles, which attract migrating shorebirds.
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Jarron Lucas, right, shows Mark Osokow evidence of small reptiles in a drainage spillway at the preserve.
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A Pacific tree frog at the preserve. The herpetological community is still talking about a Western spadefoot toad recently discovered in a marsh at the preserve. Spadefoot toads, which get their name from a distinctive hard, black projection on each hind foot, had not been seen in the area for more than a decade.
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Jarron Lucas with the Southwest Herpetologists Society lifts metal panels looking for small reptiles.
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The Western skink is among the lizards found at the preserve.
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Hilltop homes define the northern boundary of the Chatsworth Nature Preserve.
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