SM MOUNTAINS It’s a jungle out there in the hills above Santa Monica. Well, not really a jungle, but it is home to a broad diversity of wildlife that most city dwellers would never expect to find so close to such a teeming metropolis.
That wildlife is the subject of PBS show, “Wild Chronicles,” which airs locally on KLCS on Jan. 22, at 11 p.m. The series, produced by National Geographic, delves into the many natural wonders on the planet and advocates for the protection of these delicate resources. In this particular episode, the series’ season premiere, host Boyd Matson tags along with thousands of volunteers during the Santa Monica Mountains BioBlitz.
The event, co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service, was a 24-hour search of the popular hiking area for any and every living thing found there to give participants a baseline of what lives in the not-so-distant wild.
“The BioBlitz was a fantastic opportunity for community members to get outside and to really explore their backyard, to see and learn about all the plants and animals that call the Santa Monica Mountains home,” Martha Conboy, senior executive producer for National Geographic Television, said.
The BioBlitz in the local mountains was the second of 10 annual events that will be held at urban national parks around the country, leading up the Park Service’s centennial celebration in 2016. The first was held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. in 2007.
While the event was held in mid-2008, it was still fresh on the mind of one of the nearly 5,000 volunteers who participated.
“I learned a lot about what kind of animals and birds live in our area,” said 11-year-old Christina Pham, who attended the BioBlitz with her fifth grade class at Manzanita Elementary School in Newbury Park. “I learned that each animal lives in different habitats.
“It was a great trip, I would do it again.”
Pham, her twin sister Michelle, and the thousands of volunteers who took part were tasked with scouring the underbrush and trails of the Santa Monica Mountains in search of every plant, animal, bird and insect they ran across. In all, upwards of 1,300 different species were discovered.
“BioBlitz organizers encouraged public participation and was open to volunteers of all ages: families, students, anyone who was curious,” Conboy said.
While volunteers did learn a thing or two about the natural world around them, leave it to an 11-year-old to put it all in perspective.
“It was really fun,” Michelle Pham said. “We were given binoculars and backpacks and lots of really cool stuff.
“They even gave us cool bandanas, neat notebooks and a water bottle.”