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Friends of Ballona Wetlands’ award-winning volunteer Restoration Program provides the opportunity to restore this precious coastal ecosystem while learning about its value. Volunteering engages participants in hands-on restoration of the unique and rare coastal habitat at Ballona.
Something as simple as moving a plant from one area of the planet to another can result in big problems. According to a 2004 Cornell University report by Pimental, Zuniga, and Morrison, there are over 50,000 invasive introduced plant species in the United States. The economic and environmental impact of these species cost the United States roughly $120 billion per year in losses in agriculture, forestry, fishing, tourism, as well as the loss of our natural heritage.
Plants, invertebrates, vertebrates, and animals, and even microbes get introduced both intentionally and accidentally, but always as a result of human activity. They are sometimes introduced for food, fiber, landscaping, accidentally through human travel, or through the importation of animals, food, and other plants.
If the plant can tolerate or adapt to the climate of the new area it can reproduce, spreading seeds to new areas, including wild natural areas. Since the predators for these introduced plants are back in the habitat from which they came, they have little competition in their new spot. Native plants and animals are displaced as introduced plant species take over. And these new rarely serve a purpose in the new ecosystem. Governments and citizens all over the world are recognizing this issue. At Ballona, we get together to do something about it…
Between 1999 and 2007, Friends of Ballona Wetlands volunteers removed over eight thousand four hundred cubic yards of invasive plants, trash, and debris from the wetlands, equaling more than four hundred and fifty tons of material. Additionally, over eight hundred native plants have been carefully planted and tended by dedicated volunteers until established in the coastal sand dunes of Ballona. These native plants have reproduced and flourished, creating precious pockets of life for native insects, reptiles, birds, and small mammals. It is with great joy that we witness cottontail rabbits dash across the sand and into the silver dune lupine, or hear the sound of the California Towhee as she forages for food in the brush.
Along with habitat restoration activities, FBW also facilitates the cleanup of Ballona Creek during special project days for corporate groups, community groups, and “Eco Holidays” such as Earth Day and Coastal Cleanup Day. During these events individuals, families, and community groups demonstrate heartfelt enthusiasm as they contribute to our ongoing efforts to revitalize our waterways.