Week 203: Madrona Marsh Nature Center

March 08, 2020

L.A. Walks: The Path to a Vibrant Marsh in Torrance's Industrial Core, 1.5 miles

About a mile south of Torrance's 2.5-million sq. ft. Del Amo Fashion Center, the 6th largest mall in the USA, one of the last remaining vernal freshwater marshes in L.A. Country provides a habitat for valuable and threatened species. Home to countless varieties of birds, animals, reptiles, bugs, and butterflies, Madrona Marsh Nature Center is an ecological treasure, a natural vernal wetland returned to its native state by the heroic members of the non-profit Friends of Madrona Marsh. Following Charles Fleming's June 24, 2019 hike in the L.A. Times, Barbara and I set out on this glorious pre-rain morning for a short but stunning hike through the preserve. In the heart of an urban area, the marsh covers 35-acres of protected nature, a mix of several micro-habitats from prairie uplands to Duck Island in the center of the marsh. Immediately soothing, we circled the grounds on a trail that initially led us through the driest part of the marsh, the Coastal Prairies and the Uplands. We caught our first seasonal sighting of California Poppies on the side of the trail. Bees feeding on flowers. A beetle on the path. A clamor of birdsong drowning out city traffic noise. A hummingbird watched us pass. It was avian party with us as onlookers. Turning west then north, we caught our first glimpse of the marsh wetlands. Geese in the distance. An egret. Sycamore, eucalyptus, and willow shaded the edges of the water. Across the way, Duck Island. We counted four different species of ducks in the water, two types of geese along the bulrushes and that doesn't touch the varieties that pass through. The blue sky and white clouds mirroring in the water had our cameras clicking. As we came south again around the trail toward the end, we stopped at the nursery where rows of poppies were tucked into pots for planting. Madrona Marsh is an SEA—a Significant Ecological Area designation for land with irreplaceable biological resources. Impossible to catch a glimpse of all varieties all on any given day, so do as we did—visit the Nature Center across the street for a complete catalog and examples of the marsh's residents. Behind the Nature Center is a garden of indigenous California flowers and plants, varieties of flowers you've never seen but won't forget. The Nature Center and a hike around the preserve are wonders. Note: the Center and Preserve both open at 10 a.m., and no dogs allowed. But bring the kids. This is preserve is the look and history of California before...people.

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