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WESTSIDE DIGEST

Playa del Rey : Audubon Program to Begin

December 06, 1990

A National Audubon Society educational program designed to teach Westside schoolchildren about natural history and the environment will be launched today at the Ballona Wetlands.

The first group of about 60 students from the Broadway Elementary School in Venice are to visit the wetland area near Playa del Rey this morning, according to Audubon project director Melanie Ingalls.

Maguire Thomas Partners, developers of the Playa Vista project, is sponsoring the educational program for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. Students from the Los Angeles, Santa Monica-Malibu and Culver City school districts will take part in the program called Audubon Adventures, Ingalls said.

The conservation group will also develop an interpretive program for visitors to the nearly 270-acre wetlands located south of Ballona Creek.

The area is home to more than 200 species of birds at some point each year, including the endangered California least tern and the Belding's savannah sparrow. Other endangered species such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons have been seen in the area.

Maguire Thomas recently reached agreement with another environmental group, Friends of Ballona Wetlands, to protect and restore the wetlands. The agreement to settle a longstanding lawsuit also removed a major obstacle to construction of the multibillion-dollar Playa Vista project.

The proposed project, one of the biggest in Los Angeles history, is planned for 670 acres west of the San Diego Freeway between Marina del Rey and the Westchester Bluffs.

Plans call for construction of a new city-within-a-city with 11,750 residential units, 5 million square feet of office space, 2,400 hotel rooms, 720,000 square feet of retail space, 2,400 hotel rooms, 25,000 parking spaces and a new marina with 750 boat slips.

An environmental impact report on the development is being prepared.

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