What is KMHRP?
So what the heck is this KMHRP anyway?
KMHRP is Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park.
It is often called Harbor Park, by locals
or "old-timers" (like me), its first
official name after it became public.
It is the third largest park in the city
of Los Angeles, but that is the least
of its claims to fame.
KMHRP is how much of L.A. used to look!
It lies where Wilmington, San Pedro
and Harbor City meet, just a half-mile
from the L.A. Harbor. It is bounded by
PCH and Anaheim on the north and south;
Vermont and the 110 Fwy.,west and east.
KMHRP is Lake Machado
Like many parks it can be a great place
for a family outing. There are playgrounds
for the kids and picinic tables with grills.
There are walking paths around the lake
with beautiful scenery. For being in the
big city, the distinct feeling of "wide-open
spaces," and in some areas natural native
habitats representive of those present
a hundred, two hundred and more years ago.
You can even catch and release some
Large-mouth Bass in the 4-6 pound class!
For thousands of Angelinos it is the closest
most accessible open space with the most
diverse recreational opportunities.
KMHRP is Wetlands with Wildlife
It contains the largest piece of original
native riparian forest and freshwater marsh
and lake in coastal L.A. County. It has
the greatest bird diverstiy (over 330 types
known from the site) of any site in the
city or county of L.A., of similar size.
KMHRP is a Freshwater Marsh & Lake
At 241 acres it probably contains the
greatest bio-diversity of any like sized
site in the county, but certainly in the
coastal section of the city.
(From Sta. Monica to Long Beach).
Unfortunately, much of it is disappearing
due to habitat degradation.
About a third of its breeding bird
species (diversity) have been lost
since the records began in the late
1800's (down 33% in the last century).
This minute remnant of L.A.'s once common
original native habitat is is the
biggest piece of this type we have left.
The Lake is generally considered to have
been an "oxbow," or "bend in a river,"
from the L.A. River's location at
some point in the past. It was tidal
at some point as well. Many effects are
still present, such as beach sand and
many "sea shells" in some areas.
Going back to the earliest of known
times, it was a center of Native American
habitization locally, with several villages
around it over the years. Many artifacts
have been recovered from the site. That
alone should give it all the protection
and respect that all such siginificant
historical sites enjoy.
KMHRP is Riparian Willow Forest
More recently when the Spaniards invaded from
Mexico and enslaved the native americans,
it remained at the center of activity, with
trading posts (the "Casa de Sangre" at
5-points), etc. around it. The ranchos
of some of LA's important early colonizers,
Sepulveda, Dominguez, and Machado, sort of
met around the lake.
The lake has been renamed officially its name
of a hundred years ago honoring his important
part in Los Angeles' history: Lake Machado
He lived where the golf course sits today.
Surely Machado, Dominguez, and Sepulveda had
all rested, cooled off, and probably hunted in
the "bosque" (woods).
The riparian willow forest around the lake
was named Canada de los Palos Verdes in the
mid-1600's (!) by Vizcaino! I would like to
see what's left of the forest (the north-end
willows along PCH) renamed Bosque Palos Verdes
to honor this part of its heritage.
KMHRP is the Great Outdoors in the Big City
In the mid-1800's the "sweetwater" that
was stored at the drum barracks nearby
in Wilmington, which was used by ships
on long trips asea, was from here!
But don't drink the water today!
Early in the last century, it was in the
middle of hundreds of oil derricks, and
mud was mined at the lake. There was also
an airfield at one time, near where the
college sits today, which both Earhart
and Lindberg flew out of!
The site was known as Bixby Slough for
some time when owned by the Bixby family
of Long Bch. (a sign on PCH at the
Wilmington Drain still calls it such).
There are bird records from the site
dating back a hundred years. It has
long been known as a fantastic place
for birds. It was a top-notch duck
hunting place at one time. People even
used to water ski on the lake!
The city of L.A. purchased it in the 1950's,
mostly at the urging of the Izzaak Walton League,
to preserve it as open space in the big city.
A primary focus was an urban fishing place.
Of course one must take care of the habitat and
environment to have healthy fish to consume.
It was officially developed into a park in
the very late 1960's. That was when the lawns
and facilities were put in on the west side
of the lake along Vermont Avenue. That was
all native willows and mulefat, removed for
the lawns. It was still very wild and natural,
as late as the mid-1960's.
KMHRP is Amazing Butterflies
Unfortunately the ground pollution got so bad
the fish became toxic, and the state quit
stocking it decades ago. Perhaps one day
they will be edible again if we muster the
will to clean our environment up.
The cultural and historical values seem to
me to be largely overlooked and forgotten.
This is a shame because it devalues the
incredible history of the site. Remember
the fact that at other times in its history
there were grizzly bears there, and thousands
of years ago, undoubtedly Sabre-tooth Cats!
KMHRP is Waterfowl in Winter
To find out more about the areas amazing
history, there are a couple excellent
accounts that have been published.
Palos Verdes Peninsula: Time and the
Terraced Land, by Augusta Fink, Western
Tanager Press, Santa Cruz,CA, reprinted
in 1987 is very interesting reading.
So is Don Gales' book: Handbook of
Wildflowers, Weeds, Wildlife and Weather
of the South Bay and Palos Verdes Peninsula,
published by FoldaRoll Company, PVP, CA;
3rd edition, 1988.
Both have some incredible historical
accounts and photos... Local bookstores
often carry both of them, and they are
must reads for locals.
Kids Love KMHRP
Where else within a half-hour drive, could
you take a class of youth and show them what
it's like to be in the middle of a forest and
marsh, and hundreds of birds, butterflies
and dragonflies? Tens of thousands of youth
live within a half-hour bus ride of the site.
The hundreds who have participated in the
PV/SoBay Audubon summer camps there
would love to tell you what a great
experience it was for them.
KMHRP is Awesome Dragonflies
The site has been mired in between bureaucracy
and neglect that has precluded effective
management for decades, operating without a
master plan, or the complete cooperation and
coordination of all the agencies with jurisdiction.
Now under new leadership, it appears to be getting
some attention after decades of neglect
(the "south side syndrome"). The Great
Botulism and Mosquito outbreak of 2002
probably helped along the task force that has
been convened that includes all the agencies
with jurisdiction, and groups with vested
interest, and heads are being put together to
solve the parks problems. For the first time in
its history, all the vested parties are
actually meeting to solve the problems
decades of neglect created. There is hope!
It is important to remember the people
who are having to face the results of neglect,
and fix the problems, are not the ones who
created them. These are brave people!
KMHRP is Beautiful Sunrises
Most people who see some photos of the
habitats there cannot believe it is L.A..
Most of the public does not know such a thing
is available to them in the "harbor area."
Educating the public about its recreation
opportunities, and making it safe for all
to go and enjoy them, will hopefully change
this in time. It is our hope to do some of
that with this website.
KMHRP is a Wildlife Sanctuary
It is a diamond in the rough. A misunderstood,
and for decades mis-managed, gem.
There is nothing like it in the city or
county of Los Angeles. It is precious.
It represents the best opportunity the
city or county has to save a piece of
what once was coastal LA in its near
original state. The only such piece left
from Santa Monica to Long Beach. Already
a world-class birding place, it could be
a world-class outdoor education place.
A CAUTION ABOUT VISITING THE PARK:
It would not be fair to not warn you
of possible safety concerns before
you go exploring the site. It is a very
urban park. There has been a population
of homeless that for nearly the last decade
have taken over the north-end willows
along PCH. A woman should not go there
by herself. Men are safer in groups as well.
There is a severe health hazard in that
the forest floor is their toilet, (not to
mention how this pollutes the lake (and
harbor) every time it rains). Mud boots
are required to try the trails there.
Several lone (male) birders have been
threatened, so if possible don't go alone.
Maybe carry pepper spray; there are often
very threatening dogs. Of course a cell
phone might be handy. Go there in a group.
This is being cleaned up and out
There is a new ordinance to help enforce
camping laws. The north-end willows are
closed to entry except from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..
You can walk the edge any time (where most of
the good birds have been seen anyway).
In the near future this should eliminate
the homeless problem and most safety issues.
The main part of the west side of lake,
and all across the dam, the bike path to
the east side (and the mitigation site)
are all safe due to high public
foot traffic levels. All the lower wetland
is safe and hassle free too... It's
just the north end where extra caution
is order of the day.
KMHRP is Green Open Space
If you are careful you should be able
enjoy the park without incident. Many
of the birds that used to nest in the
north-end willows are now gone due to
this new constant "people pressure" and
disturbance complete with dogs and cats.
April to October mosquito repellant
might be a good idea to have on hand,
especially if you venture into the
woods or marsh. They are worst at sunup
and dusk (when some of the best birding
is to be had of course), and with WNV
surely on its way, better err on
the side of caution. Longsleeves are
best early and late. Over 30+ years
I have never gotten a tick there.
All PV horsetrails are loaded with them,
and a good reason to keep horses out!
"Virtually" explore the habitats, birds,
butterflies, and dragonflies, here at
the website, then go see it for yourself
at the park! Have fun! And when you're
done, please do something to help it.
KMHRP is nature at your doorstep!