Decade of change at Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve

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By Connie Vadheim

Special to the GVN

The Friends of Gardena Willows have been stewards of Gardena’s ‘hidden gem’ since 2006. The last 10 years have seen many improvements. If you haven’t visited the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve recently, you may be surprised at all the changes.

By Connie Vadheim

Special to the GVN

The Friends of Gardena Willows have been stewards of Gardena’s ‘hidden gem’ since 2006. The last 10 years have seen many improvements. If you haven’t visited the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve recently, you may be surprised at all the changes.

In the past decade, The Friends received a substantial grant to remove invasive non-native plants. The invasive trees were choking out the native willows, for which the Preserve is named. Another grant improved the trails, making them safer and accessible to all. The Friends have worked with the City of Gardena to improve drainage into and out of the Preserve. And community partners are currently assisting to remove trees damaged by a destructive borer beetle, helping to save the remaining native trees.

Community volunteers built an outdoor amphitheater and a covered teaching ramada during the past decade. Rustic benches placed around the Preserve now provide shady places to rest. The second Sunday of each month offers an opportunity to learn more about the history, plants and wildlife with docent-lead and self-guided tours. Beginning in 2017, the Preserve is also open on the fourth Saturday of each month.

Community volunteers have planted thousands of plants native to the Gardena area. Several areas of the Preserve now recreate the Gardena of hundreds of years ago. And since 2012, The Friends and volunteers, with assistance from faculty and students at CSU Dominguez Hills, have installed two unusual native plant gardens within the Preserve. Visitors from all over S. California visit the gardens as part of spring garden tours each year. The gardens offer ideas on making local home gardens more water-wise and life-friendly.

So, if you haven’t visited the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve in a while, make a resolution to do so soon. The Preserve is open to visitors from 1 to 4 p.m. on the second Sunday and fourth Saturday of the month. Mother Nature’s Backyard Gardens are open additional hours. Group tours of the Preserve or gardens can also be arranged. If you want to volunteer, monthly restoration days are the third Saturday, from 8 to 11 a.m. Additional volunteer opportunities are available. To learn more, visit the Friends website (http://www.gardenawillows.org/) or call 310-217-0681.

Decade of change at Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve