• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Escape city for serenity at Debs Park

July 30, 2009 6:43:42 AM PDT
Nestled behind the 110 Freeway between South Pasadena and Dodger Stadium is a hidden gem in the City of Angels, a place where families can experience a slice of natural habitat without venturing far from home.The space is known as Debs Park, the third largest park in L.A. It's in this serene setting that students of all ages can explore the natural world just minutes from downtown, thanks to Audubon California, a nonprofit organization committed to conserving and restoring natural ecosystems.

"We have many families who come here and say, 'Oh, I didn't know this was here.' This is what we're trying to do, create a space that belongs to the community," said Gabriella Castaneda, a teacher at Deb's Park.

The Audubon Center at Debs Park covers nearly 300 acres and gives visitors the chance to take a close look at some of the plant and animal life that once flourished along the Arroyo Seco.

"We've recorded over 140 bird species here. There's all kinds of wildlife to see, coyotes, rabbits, squirrels, lizards, snakes, so really, in Los Angeles, this is a very special place for families that live in probably park-poor communities to come and connect to the natural world," said center director Jeff Chapman.

Audubon California has been working to conserve the area since 1998, involving the city of Los Angeles and the communities of northeast and east L.A. to revive natural surroundings.

"I didn't really know about it before, and then our school brought it in, and we came on a field trip here, and I liked it a lot," said Tiffany Martinez of Highland Park.

The Center is now in its fifth year of summer day camp, giving children the chance to explore streams, trails and the wildlife that comes with it.

"Our families are pretty supportive about this. My mom signed me up because she knew that I was pretty into nature and stuff, and she thought that I would be good here," said Gabriella Green of East L.A.

Debs Park has appealed not just to the young, but to all generations, with programs aimed at including entire families.

Along with peaceful bird watching, you can relax with a tai chi class, or lace up your boots for a nature hike.

Once a month, the Audubon Center even provides free daycare to moms who want to take in a fitness hike and learn more about the nature that's in their own backyard.

"I really feel that nature can ignite a fire in someone to learn about more things and ask questions. And we try to really nurture that in our kids that come to our programs," Chapman said.

Most programs at the park are free and are offered in both English and Spanish, offering an escape from the city to all who care to venture off the beaten path.

Report Typo |  Send Tip |  Get Alerts | Most Popular
Follow @abc7 on Twitter  |  Become a fan on Facebook


Load Comments