Ringed by mountains, rivers, and streams, the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve is haven of rest for wildlife and humans alike, a welcome oasis within an urban setting. It is here where the visitor of today can get a sense of what this part of the San Fernando Valley might have been like before agriculture and urban settlement forever changed the Valley floor.
The leaves of willows, cottonwoods, and sycamores glisten in the breeze. The calls of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds such as ducks, Canada geese, herons, and egrets penetrating the stillness as they take flight after resting and foraging at the wildlife lake.
The musty scent of sages and mugwort heavy in the air after a winter’s rain; and activity of small birds such as the goldfinch, woodpecker, and oriole as they search for food and shelter amongst the oak savannah.
Walks: To view and study more than 200 different species of birds seen in the wildlife reserve are conducted by the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society. There’s a Bird Walk on the first Sunday of every month from 8 am – 11:30 am, year-round. For families and beginners, there’s a Bird Walk on the second Saturday of winter months between October and March starting at 8:30 am and ending around 11:00 am.
Education: The wildlife reserve serves as an outdoor classroom for field trips for local schools, sponsored by SFV Audubon.
Involvement: Track the migrating Canada Geese and promote habitat conservation originates through the Canada Goose Project. You can participate in the Goose Count from October through March on the following schedule: Saturday 3 – 6 pm, Sunday 5:30 am – 8 am, Tuesday 3 pm – 6 pm, Wednesday 5:30 am – 8 am.
The Los Angeles River drains the vast watershed of the San Fernando Valley and surrounding mountains – finally emptying into the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach. In years of heavy rainfall, this normally tame watercourse becomes a mighty force – as was the case in 1938 when torrential rains caused the river to flood adjacent farms and homes. Consequently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers channelized the river and built the Sepulveda Dam to capture and hold floodwaters for later gradual release down the river.
Except for infrequent but dramatic flood episodes, this otherwise dry-land flood control basin, most of which is leased from the Corps by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks, plays host to diverse uses today including athletic fields, agriculture, golf courses, a fishing lake, parklands, a sewage treatment facility, and a growing wildlife reserve.
Forward-thinking citizens and government planners hatched the idea for a designated wildlife reserve in the 60s and 70s when much of the basin was open land or in agriculture and becoming surrounded by suburban growth. With so much land being developed for urban and recreational uses, some saw it critical to reserve lands in the lowest flood-prone basin areas and “re-create” a natural habitat for birds and small animals with native vegetation where people would be welcome as visitors.
Map of the vicinity.
WHAT: Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Preserve
WHEN: Open sunrise to sunset
WHERE: 6350 Woodley Avenue | Van Nuys, CA 91406
- The park is 225 acres
- Free parking lot
CONTACT INFO: (818) 756-9710
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