In 2011, the community of South Los Angeles will welcome the South Los Angeles Wetland Park, a $26-million Proposition O-funded project that will transform a historic rail yard into a multi-beneficial nine-acre wetland park simultaneously improving water quality in the Los Angeles River and creating a green oasis in a highly industrialized area.

Spearheaded by Councilwoman Jan Perry (Council District 9) and spanning an entire city block, the South Los Angeles Wetland Park will feature meandering pedestrian trails and bridges, educational kiosks and observation decks located within a created riparian habitat providing park visitors with an accessible and quiet refuge in the heart of urban Los Angeles. Nestled throughout the wetland and habitat will be various public-use facilities, including an 81,760 square-foot multi-use community center.

The park’s features will encourage visits by schools where students can learn about wetland ecosystems, native California habitat and species, as well as the stormwater best management practices employed. As a green space in a highly industrialized area, the South Los Angeles Wetland Park will also attract and provide native wildlife with a natural sanctuary. A former transportation facility, the project will include a railroad museum that will house historic transportation-related photos and artifacts.

Improving Los Angeles River water quality is a key component of the South Los Angeles Wetland Park. Utilizing a series of stormwater pre-treatment best management practice measures (or BMPs), a portion of the urban runoff from a 525-acre tributary watershed adjacent to the park will be treated for the removal of pollutants such as trash, bacteria, metals and nutrients.

The South Los Angeles Wetland Park is the second of two innovative wetland parks initiated by Councilwoman Perry. The ground-breaking and United States EPA National Wetlands Award-nominated Augustus F. Hawkins Nature Park and Wetland provided the model and inspiration for the creation of the South Los Angeles Wetland Park. Completed in 2005, the eight acre Augustus F. Hawkins Nature Park and Wetland is the City’s first man-made wetland and provides much-needed green space and riparian habitat in the heart of South Los Angeles.

Councilwoman Jan Perry’s support and leadership played a key role in these two ecologically innovative wetland projects that utilize natural solutions to simultaneously improve water quality and the quality of life for Angelenos. Recently, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies recognized Councilwoman Perry’s commitment to the environment by awarding her the prestigious 2010 Individual Environmental Achievement Award.

The South Los Angeles Wetland Park is currently in the construction phase with completion scheduled for May 2011. Artist conceptions of the site are shown below. Click on each for a larger view.

(above) The site in its current condition.