FoGP Lecture Series Cover a Range of Topics

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Friends of Griffith Park’s popular talks at the Los Feliz Library continue to draw standing room only crowds.

On June 15, Courtney Aiken and Dan Cooper presented the preliminary results of this spring’s Raptor Nesting Survey. Due to a larger number of volunteers at the training sessions than was anticipated, they were able to expand the study to include some hawk and owl nests outside the park. (See p. 4) FoGP purchased a spotting scope to aid birders in monitoring the nests assigned to them. Volunteers monitored 49 active nests and numerous nests that may have been active earlier in the season. Owls don’t mess around; they start nesting early in the season so next year’s survey will have to start earlier to catch them doing their thing. Birders are a dedicated and enthusiastic group. Participants proudly told the audience about the fledglings in “their” nests. There was a lot of Q & A at the end of the program, but the best part was that many more birders asked if they could be included in next year’s survey. Yes, you can! Watch for announcements about the 2018 training sessions. (also see article 2017 Griffith Park Birds of Prey: Final Report by Courtney Aiken & Daniel S. Cooper)

On July 13, guest speaker and ­FoGP boardmember Richard Stanley tackled some of the demands facing parks in today’s world. Stanley began with the question why have parks at all? What human needs propelled the universal formation, development and adoption of public parks? What challenges confront parks today? Is the idea of parks overdue for revision?

Stanley traced the development of parks: an area of natural, semi-natural or planted space set aside for human enjoyment and recreation or for the protection of wildlife or natural habitats. From the first park, the Garden of Eden, to our modern Griffith Park, man has tried to enhance human life by drawing closer to the natural world. Ancient Romans had the atrium for the family and the gods. England had deer parks that served the squire. Renaissance and Baroque royalty ordered parks into formal gardens. Later, these formal gardens gave way to a carefully cultivated natural, but man-made, style. The 19th Century saw the rise of the rural cemetery, a kind of idealized rustic necropolis that influenced outdoor furniture, World’s Fairs and even Disney parks.

Photographers returned from distant corners of America with images so compelling that the idea of a park designed to preserve unspoiled natural beauty formed: the national park. Urban social stress led to the idea of large city parks with a democratic intent such as New York City’s Central Park. Stanley traced the creation, decline and restoration of Central Park, the nation’s most-used park. Its salvation was assured only after the city of New York chartered a non-profit, publicly-run organization, the Central Park Conservancy, to raise funds and administer the Park’s $80 million annual budget.

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