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10 Ecological Groups

Volunteers Work to Save Natural Areas in the Urban Environment

September 24, 1987|KATHY STEVENSON | Stevenson is a Redondo Beach writer. and

P rotect endangered species. Preserve natural resources. We've all heard the pleas that ring from the environmentalist camp.

Often, these impassioned urgings fall on less-than-

receptive ears in the Southland. Some Southern Californians argue that here, in one of the nation's most urbanized areas, ecological issues are nothing to fret about: The bug-and-bird-and-blossom stuff is for rural folk who meet Mother Nature when they step out their back doors, right?

If you've ever felt like that, a talk with a conservationist such as Georgean Griswold might point you in a new direction. She will be quick to tell you that nature's beauty is abundant near and even within our Southland cities. And, she adds, keeping that beauty alive hinges in good measure on the efforts of volunteer groups.

Griswold is past president of Friends of Madrona Marsh, a group dedicated to preserving 45 acres of natural marshland in the heart of Torrance.

"It is essential that we preserve something that is so readily accessible to people who live in the city," she says. "There are young people in an urban environment who might not otherwise get to see land and wildlife in their natural state."

Griswold's group is only one of a number deeply involved in preserving the animal and plant life and other natural resources of Southern California.

Here's a sampler of volunteer, nonprofit societies working to ensure that parts of the Southland's deserts, mountains, marshes and bodies of water remain in their natural states. Included are representative activities.

American Cetacean Society, P.O. Box 2639, San Pedro, Calif. 90731; (213) 548-6279. This organization was founded in 1967 primarily to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises. It is now national and works in conservation, education and research related to marine mammals. Southland chapters are in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Orange County, San Diego and Santa Barbara.

Members receive the Whalewatcher educational quarterly and WhaleNews national newsletter. Activities include whale-watching trips, ecology expeditions and lectures on the marine environment.

Ecology Center of Southern California, P.O. Box 35473, Los Angeles, Calif. 90035; (213) 559-9160. The Ecology Center works on local, national and international environmental issues. There is a speaker's bureau and educational materials are available. The center publishes an annual "Directory of Environmental Organizations" with more than 2,000 listings.

Members receive Compendium Newsletter, edited by Nancy Pearlman, who hosts a radio and television series on environmental issues. Pearlman founded the organization in 1972.

The center is concerned with wildlife preservation, toxic wastes, wetlands and refuges, urban blight, ocean and coastal protection, desert management and historical preservation.

Friends of Madrona Marsh, P.O. Box 5078, Torrance, Calif. 90510; (213) 326-2774. This group, founded in 1971, works in conjunction with the city of Torrance to keep Madrona Marsh in its natural state. There are docent-led walks, including two this weekend: Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.

The animals and birds sighted in the marsh include red foxes and several varieties of ducks, herons and egrets, a spokesman said.

The organization is raising money to construct an interpretive building and a pedestrian overpass and to upgrade trails.

Another group dedicated to an urban marsh is the Friends of the Ballona Wetlands. The 1,500-member organization sponsors frequent walks through the wetlands area, more than 200 acres north of Playa del Rey.

The marsh is said to be used by more than 120 species of birds, including the American bald eagle, peregrine falcon and the brown pelican. For additional information about membership or activities, call (213) 821-7695.

Fund for Animals, 12548 Ventura Blvd., Suite 141, Studio City, Calif. 91604; (213) 830-7400. Under the direction of writer/activist Cleveland Amory, the Fund for Animals has been a p owerful national lobbying group concerned with protection of animals. The group also works in education and litigation and in direct rescue of animals.

Gretchen Wyler, vice chairperson, says the group has 30,000 members in California. Two recent lobbying campaigns involved saving the mountain lion from trophy hunters and barring the use of domesticated animals in research, she said.

There is a speaker's bureau, and the group sponsors library exhibits and booths at public events.

Los Angeles Audubon Society, Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90046; (213) 876-0202. The conservation group, which stresses the study, appreciation and protection of birds and their habitats, has 14 Southern California chapters.

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