Los Angeles Conservation Corps Members Honored For Work Near Airport

Article appears in the Los Angeles Wave. Published June 27, 2014.

Eleven members of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps were surprised recently when, upon receiving their high school graduation diplomas, they also received letters of commendation from Los Angeles World Airports Environmental Services Division for their help in improving and maintaining the airport’s Coastal Dunes Improvement Project preserve area.

“We wanted to publicly say ‘thank you’ in appreciation of the great working relationship between [the airport] and [the Conservation Corps,” said Robert Freeman, environmental services division manager. “We also wanted to publicly acknowledge how teamwork has led to these young adults gaining job skills, knowledge about the dunes, networking, teamwork and personal responsibility.”

 

The students who received letters of commendation were America Baltazar, Erik Carranza, Luis Casco, Kendrick Collins, Diondres Antion Haynes, Christian Herrera, Brian Langston, Hernon Morales, Angel Damian Portillo, Freddie Serrano and Emely Vega Melendez. All will now be pursuing their higher education goals.

Conservation Corps programs prepare young people with life skills and work experience by employing them in conservation projects such as the airport’s Coastal Dunes Improvement Project area, which is located just north of Sandpiper Street between the west side of LAX and the beach.

The Conservation Corps programs also include building parks, planting trees, refurbishing hiking trails, building community gardens, removing graffiti, recycling, and educating the community on how to protect the ocean and the Los Angeles River.

At LAX, the student volunteers spent their time planting, removing invasive ground cover vegetation, such as ice plant, and clearing paths as part of the area’s restoration effort. The project is the first major restoration effort to be undertaken in the 48-acre area since it was rezoned for nature preserve uses in 1994 by the city of Los Angeles.

It is also one of many examples of the airport’s integration of environmental sustainability values into LAX operations. Restoration of the LAX Dunes is part of the airport’s overall effort to achieve sustainability at LAX.

When completed, the project will also fulfill a desire by the community to be involved with beautifying the site, restoring native habitat and correcting human actions that have degraded this coastal dunes ecosystem.

All major restoration in the coastal dunes area is overseen by the airport’s Environmental Services Division and the California Coastal Commission. The airport also coordinates with other governmental agencies and the public to guide restoration activities.

The coastal dunes, now home to more than 1,000 species of plants and wildlife, supports 43 acres of virtually undisturbed protected original native dune habitat and is the largest remaining coastal dune area in Southern California.