South LA Wetlands Park

Southern Sierran

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter
June 2021

Innovative Wetlands Park in South LA

Along Avalon and San Pedro Blvd, between 54th and 55th street, lies a little jewel called South Los Angeles Wetland Park. The park serves the common good and social justice in reducing green space inequities by making parks a useful part of cities conceived as a whole, a perfect example of not only beautification but also smart public investment. 

Rio de Los Angeles State Park Grand Opening Earth Day Weekend April 2007 The City Project (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

LIFE AFTER RUINS: Brownfield land and ruderal ecology

In urban planning, brownfield land is any previously developed land that is not currently in use that may be potentially contaminated. From the rubble, plant species known as ruderal species colonize and thrive on these disturbed lands. These mosaic habitats once developed but 'left to nature' can support a surprising amount of biodiversity and can be of 'high environmental value.'

In urban planning, brownfield land is any previously developed land that is not currently in use that may be potentially contaminated. From the rubble, plant species known as ruderal species colonize and thrive on these disturbed lands. These mosaic habitats once developed but 'left to nature' can support a surprising amount of biodiversity and can be of 'high environmental value.'


Protecting Banning Ranch

A fenced-off brownfield in Newport Beach, CA so blighted the only solution was to bulldoze it and replace it with homes, commercial space and a resort. That was the argument made by developers who only saw the land as a place to build. Community members and activists from the Angeles Chapter didn't see it that way. Now, 5 years after the successful campaign to have the coastal commission deny a development permit - Banning Ranch is now in escrow! Here's a look back on the lessons learned.

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LA River-adjacent, 42-acre G2 parcel in 2017 courtesy of the City of Los Angeles

In 2017, the City of LA purchased the East Yards, the remaining 42-acres of property along the LA River, which is adjacent to the Rio de Los Angeles State Park. The site (often referred to as the G2 parcel) is the largest unresolved brownfield project in the city and has emerged as the heart of an ambitious LA River revitalization plan aimed at extensive habitat restoration and creating a key access point for local communities to connect to the river. Angeles Chapter activists have been working with community organizations on these plans.


This Pride Month, we're uplifting stories from LGBTQIA+ community leaders, Sierra Club staff and volunteers, and partner organizations to remember our history, celebrate the amazing individuals and advocates in this space, and learn about the work that remains to be done.

Check out the Gay & Lesbian Sierrans (GLS). GLS is an official activity section of the Sierra Club and fosters the purposes of the Sierra Club by making available a wide range of events for gays, lesbians and their friends and family.
Due to a huge response from the community, including over 50 letters from Sierra Club supporters, the Santa Clarita Planning Commission voted to deny the proposed Sand Canyon Resort Project. Unfortunately, the City Council is leaning toward a vote to reverse the Planning Commission's decision to deny the project. Before the Council breaks their promise it is critical to get support from the community. Santa Clarita Group members are reaching out to local activists in order to keep the pressure on their City Council members. Contact the Santa Clarita Group if you would like to email a letter of your own.

Congratulations to My Generation activists! In early May the South Coast Air Quality Management District approved one of the world's first warehouse electrification and zero-emissions rules. The passage of the ISR is the result of a multiyear campaign and coalition effort and comes at a critical time, after a decade of stagnating air quality gains. This groundbreaking policy would require all new and existing Southern California warehouses larger than 100,000 square feet to make an annual investment in facilitating the transition to cleaner technologies, or pay a fee if such investments aren’t feasible.
Wilderness proponents in California had good reason to rejoice earlier this spring, when Senator Alex Padilla introduced the Protecting Unique Beautiful Landscapes by Investing in California (PUBLIC) Lands Act. The legislation will help achieve the goals set forth to protect 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 (an effort known as 30x30). Here in the Angeles region, the act will not only protect habitat and improve fire management, but it will also expand access to the outdoors for all people.  Act Now: Thank Senator Padilla for championing CA's lands and rivers.

The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter is thrilled to announce that we have joined the Destruction for Nada coalition! The goal? To stop all highway widening in LA County & get Caltrans District 7 and LA Metro to instead invest in transit & active transportation. Highway expansions do not solve the issue of traffic and only place more cars on roads due to induced demand. They also destroy communities and increase pollution. Metro’s budget should reflect California’s and Los Angeles’ goals of fighting climate change, not making the problem worse. Learn more and email metro leaders today.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our second Angeles Chapter book club! Our group discussed new concepts and theories for understanding environmental racism that will be essential for our work as activists. Read more about the event here. The book club will meet again on August 25th where we will discuss our new read: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Click to learn more and RSVP!

Pumpjack in Montebello Hills area by Megan Rae Watson

Another brownfield is the Montebello Hills area. It contains hundreds of active and abandoned/plugged oil wells. The Save the Montebello Hills Task Force has fought all plans for commercial/residential developments these past 15 years. As oil/gas wells close down throughout LA County over the next 10-20 years, there will be brownfield conditions like those in Montebello Hills throughout the county.


Sierra Club Outings remain on hold through July 4, 2021. Our Angeles Chapter program is working on ways to support and encourage leaders while developing future outings during this time. Look for a few Travel Adventures ready to go, and more wonderful adventures to be added soon, even if their status is “Tentative."
The club is slowly moving towards reopening outings and other in-person activities. A system called 'pilot outings' will allow for a handful of outings per month across the club to gauge the practicality of certain COVID-related protocols. Last weekend, May 29th, the Hundred Peaks Section (HPS) sponsored a pilot hike to Mt. Lukens. Read more about it here (page 3).

The SPS has been the premier mountaineering entity in the entire Sierra Club for decades, offering more restricted mountaineering trips than any other section, group, chapter, or National. Read about their history and how to participate here.


Bridge on LA River, by Peter Bennett

"Bridge on LA River" by Peter Bennett

See this photo and many more in Focal Points Magazine, courtesy of the Angeles Chapter Camera Committee. Instructions to subscribe are in Focal Points or contact the editor.

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Volunteer Corner

There are many volunteer opportunities for Sierra Club members. You can sign up for a volunteer 1:1 and we will find you a position, or you can use the Sierra Club’s Volunteer Connection and scroll through posted volunteer openings and roles.

If you visit our chapter website’s Volunteer Page, you can read our blog dedicated to Volunteer News and find the following highlighted volunteer needs:


  • Newsletter Editor to solicit materials to be published, determine the features of a publication, set and enforce deadlines, and make a final determination about what will be published in each issue.
  • Environmental Journalist to help write informative and entertaining copy related to environmental and sustainability issues.
  • Water Activist in Orange County (OC) willing to help with important water issues like Poseidon, Bolsa Chica and other Coastal OC issues.
  • Grassroots Journalist to help write action-inspiring copy that motivates readers to write letters/emails to decision makers, attend (virtual) government meetings and sign petitions.
  • Skills based volunteers with Marketing Technology/ IT backgrounds who can assist with email campaigns, SalesForce, Drupal, Google Analytics and other Information Technology tools used by the chapter.
  • Social Media Volunteers who can help create and post relevant content to our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn platforms.
  • Mountain Open Space Activists to join the Santa Monica Mountains Task Force and help secure and protect more land, while coordinating discussions on open spaces, trails and Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA) conservation.



Why run for the Chapter Executive Committee? Why not? Being a member of ExCom can be a both challenging and exciting experience. It presents an opportunity for you to contribute to and improve the chapter. Effective members build relationships with other community partners and influence what is important to the Angeles Chapter, recruit members and improve the Chapter’s diversity.  Prepare for and attend the Executive Committee meetings; consider the interests of the entire Chapter when voting. Candidates are then considered for the Chapter Elections in November 2021.

In Memoriam

The Sierra Club is indebted to the contributions of members who are no longer with us. This page is one way we remember their lives and their impact. If you have recently lost a loved one and would like them to be remembered here,  please let us know here.