Take Two for December 20, 2013

When bulldozers meet birds: One year later

Kris Ohlenkamp before photo

Jed Kim

Kris Ohlenkamp shows what the South Reserve of the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area looked like before Army Corps of Engineers crews destroyed much of the habitat.

Sepulveda Basin ACOE

Jed Kim

Many native trees were removed from the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area as part of a vegetation management plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Kris Ohlenkamp birding at Sepulveda Basin

Jed Kim

Kris Ohlenkamp has led nature walks at the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area for 35 years.

When conservationist Kris Ohlenkamp last year stumbled across the bulldozed fields of the South Reserve at the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area — a wooded area popular spot among birders and nature enthusiasts — he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“I was just dumbfounded. I mean, shocked. It looked like a hurricane hit the area. It was just unbelievable. I didn’t know what to say. It was very emotional for all of us that were here,” Ohlenkamp said. “The extent of what they did was all out of bounds.”

Ohlenkamp, conservation chair for the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society, had been leading a group in the annual Christmas bird count when they discovered that the Army Corps of Engineers had plowed over the Sepulveda Basin preserve.

The Army Corps had undertaken the action about a week beforehand as part of a five-year plan to control non-native vegetation and stop the spread of homeless encampments in the area.

 KPCC's Jed Kim reports.

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