Armed with rakes and trowels, Dorsey High School students on Saturday traveled to a new state park in Culver City on a daunting conservation mission: to bring back the cactus wren, a bird not seen there in a decade.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park is a panorama of undeveloped hills and wilderness where gray foxes still prowl and red-tailed hawks soar within sight of downtown Los Angeles. Many other natural residents, however, have been vanquished by urban encroachment.
The two dozen students aimed to lay the foundation for a cactus wren stronghold by restoring the coastal sage scrub preferred by the bird, which builds its nests deep within the protective spines of cactus patches.
After weeding a square acre of steep hillside at the Culver City park, they planted cholla and prickly pear cactus, elderberry and black walnut trees.
“Cactus grows slowly, so my goal is long-term,” said Fonda Williams, 17, who plans to enroll at UCLA next year.
“I’m hoping that years from now, I’ll visit Baldwin Hills and discover that a pair of cactus wrens are calling the cactus I planted home.”
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