For only one day a year, the Chatsworth Nature Preserve opens it’s gates to the public for an annual Earth Month celebration. The event featured bird walks, guided nature hikes, a Chumash Tatavium Indian Tribal blessing, and environmental and community organization booths.
Why only one day a year?
The former location of the Chatsworth Reservoir, dating back to 1919, the land is still managed by LADWP and is not open to the public.
In 1972 the reservoir was drained, and an ecology pond was created two years later to mitigate the habitat loss from the draining. California’s extensive drought took a toll on the ecology pond, making much news in 2015. The pond, not having a natural water source, was being filled by LADWP with potable water. As water restrictions became tighter, LADWP stopped filling the pond in 2012. The recent rains have filled the pond again, but it’s future is still uncertain. Much habitat was lost during the partial dry up of the pond and natural cycles of drought will continue to make an impact.
While visiting the nature preserve, I kept thinking this is a quagmire of conservation. This land was dramatically altered in 1919 and it’s natural ecology, as it existed until that point, was forever lost. I’m not sure how people felt in 1919 and a quick Google search led to no results on the topic. Maybe local residents were devastated or maybe they were happy about more water for irrigation? Flash forward to today – is the obligation now to maintain the altered landscape, the remnants of a retired public works project and a pond without a natural water source? From 1919 to current day, animals adapted to this altered landscape including migrating birds who use it as a stop over in the Pacific Flyway. What would those animals and the year-round residents do if the ecology pond dried up completely? Visiting the preserve compounded my thoughts on the impact we have on this planet and how intersections of commerce and nature must be handled in a sustainable way. The ecology pond’s future is uncertain right now. The recent excessive rains are only a band aid to sustain the ecology pond until our next drought.