White Point Nature Preserve. Palos Verde, California.

20160123_173906_resized_1The White Point Nature Preserve, a 102-acre plot of land that appears as an empty, vacant parcel to the uninitiated, but serves as a quiet, natural respite from the urban world.

20160123_145858-1_resizedThe preserve is criss crossed by easy hiking trails, popular with locals and their canine companions. California grey squirrels, lizards, snakes (most of which are harmless), insects, and local and migratory birds call this preserve their home, or at the very least their temporary stopover.

 

20160123_165440_resizedThe land which the preserve sits on has quite a history of its own. For nearly 5,000 years it served as the food gathering grounds for Southern California’s native Tongva people, until it became grazing land in the 19th century for Spanish-era Rancho San Pedro and later part of the Sepulveda family.

41367-royalpalms2In 1917, Royal Palms Resort and Spa took advantage of the hydrothermal springs in the cove. The posh hotel had a bathhouse, saltwater swimming pools and even slot machines.

Screenshot_2016-01-26-05-18-51-1The area has had a fascinating history. In 1897, Japanese fishermen began harvesting abalone, who lived in the surrounding area for half a century, later establishing farms there until their internment at the start of World War II.

20160123_170957_001_resizedIn 1941, the US Military took over White Point for coastal defense. Two 16- inch gun placements, capable of firing 2,700 pound shells with a range of 28 miles, were built. You can still see the massive bunkers today.

20160123_171054_resizedIn the next decade, it became part of the Cold War defense system as the location of the LA-43 Nike anti-aircaft missile launch site (the remnants still visible at the preserve today) until its de-commission in the 1970s.

The preserve is not just important for aesthetic or recreational purposes, but to protect and rebuild the coastal sage scrub environment which complemented California’s shoreline regions for millennia, until its virtual obliteration by human development within the past two-plus centuries. With only five percent of California’s coastal sage scrub habitat still intact, it is the state’s most endangered ecosystem.

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ADDRESS: 1600 W Paseo Del Mar San Pedro, CA 90731

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