TDB-L-ESPLANADEGARDEN-1117-3-1.jpg

A tiny park space overlooking Redondo Beach’s coast will soon be a breeding ground for a rare butterfly.

The South Bay Parkland Conservancy is fundraising to create Esplanade Bluff Garden to house native plants and El Segundo blue butterflies, as part of a larger effort to create a network of blue butterfly habitats throughout the region.

The group wants to raise the estimated $30,000 for installation by the end of the year through grants, donations and a potential funding match from the county. The work is estimated to be finished by spring.

The El Segundo blue butterfly is an uncommon subspecies of the square-spotted blue butterfly, which the federal government declared endangered in the 1970s. There are currently seven sites where the El Segundo blue butterfly can thrive.

“The conservancy’s goal is to enhance connectivity,” Jacob Varvarigos, president of the parkland conservancy, said Monday, Nov. 16, “and fill in the gaps between these restoration sites (around the area) to build a more packed habitat” for the butterfly.

The organization, founded in 2004, works to restore and preserve publicly owned coastal lands in the South Bay. When a South Bay city or Los Angeles County wants to develop green spaces but doesn’t have the money or manpower to maintain those lands, the conservancy steps in to help.

The Bluff Garden, on a steep slope along Esplanade between Knob Hill Avenue and Avenue A, would add to the regional line of breeding spots for the blue butterfly.

Land from the Palos Verdes Peninsula up to the Ballona Wetlands — part of a dune system that dates back thousands of years — is the native habitat of the El Segundo blue butterfly, Varvarigos said. The Redondo bluff is a pocket within that, but does not currently suit the needs of the native butterfly.

“The butterfly only lives in this small section of the planet,” Varvarigos said. “It’s unique only to the beach cities of LA. There’s a very specific area it grows in; that’s what makes the effort so simple.”

The conservancy — along with other groups, including the El Segundo Blue Coalition, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy and Friends of the Ballona Wetlands — have been working to recreate a connected habitat and urban wilderness for the El Segundo blue butterfly down the coastline, as well as a bit inland.

All the blue butterfly needs to thrive is one plant — seacliff buckwheat — though the garden will have other native plants as well.

Six months ago, the conservancy took responsibility for maintaining the future Esplanade Bluff Garden from Los Angeles County, Varvarigos said.

Once the garden is finished, the conservancy will use volunteers and student groups to help maintain it, including by pulling weeds. The conservancy — as well as other groups — will also host educational workshops there.

That effort won’t just benefit children from the beach cities, though.

Instead, Varvarigos said, the site and the educational programs will also be “for the inner city kids from South Bay to learn about the coast and these spaces that are so important for us.”

“When you ask (people in the South Bay) about wilderness, it’s only the ocean they can think about, but really there’s so much more,” he added. “So, our goal is to open that up, take down the fences and create more access to our parks and more connectivity to our wildlife.”

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

Load comments