City receives grant for habitat restoration at Wilderness Park

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

The popular Claremont Hills Wilderness Park has received a generous grant to help facilitate habitat restoration and make other improvements to the 3,000-acre hillside recreation area.

Claremont received $734,764 from the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. The conservancy is one of 10 agencies that distribute state funding for projects to promote conservation in California by protecting open spaces and wildlife habitat, while also giving the public opportunities for low impact recreation.

The city plans to use the money to accomplish three goals: clearing brush and removing high fire risk invasive and non-native plants; purchasing tools and equipment for volunteers and staff to provide ongoing bush removal and trail maintenance; and placing signs at the park entrance to educate visitors about wildlife preservation.

As part of the project, the city will thin out highly flammable plants that are within 100 to 300 feet of housing, particularly in the Claraboya neighborhood, in an effort to create defensible space around those homes. Workers will also restore 100 to 250 acres by replacing invasive plant species with those that are native to Claremont’s ecosystem.

 

The city of Claremont recently received a $730,000 grant to use for habitat rehabilitation and maintenance for the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. COURIER photo/Steven Felschundneff

 

“The City will retain an expert consultant to develop a habitat restoration plan which will focus on replacing non-native and highly flammable species such as Tree of Heaven, mustards, and thistles with plants native to the park primarily in the Johnson’s Pasture area,” Claremont Public Information Officer Bevin Handel wrote in an email.

The work will take place over a two-year period beginning in July and will be supplemented with an additional $240,000 from “community partners,” including CALFire.

The Wilderness Park, which first opened in 1996, has grown in size and popularity over the years and now averages 500,000 visitors annually.

The grant, and proposed restoration work, received support from The Friends of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park as well as the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy, according to the city.

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