Amidst the urban bustle of the valley, the wildlife area offers refuge for wildlife and people alike. Framed by a mosaic of woodlands and scrub. Haskell Creek and the wildlife lake attract a diversity of wildlife. The area offers critical habitat for weary waterfowl which rest and feed during their annual fall migration. Shorebirds and ducks flock to the shallow lake, while songbirds call out from the tall grasses and reeds.
Over 200 acres of parkland have been preserved and protected for the benefit of wildlife and people.
Attracted by the water and mud, many animals depend upon the lake as both home and marketplace. Over 200 species of birds can be found here, from small western sandpipers to great blue herons. Other animals call the area home as well. Butterflies sip nectar from wildflowers, while dragonflies patrol territory and snatch insects from the air. Life in the lake is complex; each species depends upon others for survival.
Hidden in the mud are larvae and bacteria which become food for worms, snails, and small fish. These in turn are eaten by birds or larger fish, some of which are prey for cormorants and egrets. At the water’s edge cattails and reeds provide nesting sites for blackbirds, wrens, and other songbirds. As these plants die and decompose, they provide nutrients to the system and food for the mud-dwelling larvae and bacteria. The cycle continues, creating a web of relationships.
Although different birds are seen feeding together, they usually do not compete for the same foods. For example, cormorants catch fish by diving deep underwater, while egrets and herons catch fish after stalking them in shallow water. Search the water for feeding activity.
During repairs to the Van Norman reservoir in the 1970’s, areas along Haskell Creek were dug in order to collect clay to line the reservoir. Large depressions, or borrow pits, were left behind. Each winter, the pits filled with rainwater and soon became seasonal ponds that attracted scored of waterfowl. In 1991, the pits were transformed into a permanent wildlife lake, now maintained daily with a continuous supply of reclaimed water from the Tillman Reclamation Plant.
Designed as a flow-through system, the lake can hold up to 13 million gallons of water. Each day, up to 4.7 million gallons of reclaimed water flow into the lake at the north end, while an equal amount of water is released into Haskell Creek at the south end. As a result, the lake’s water supply is completely replaced every three days.
Throughout the seasons, water flows into the lake and ultimately drains into Haskell Creek. Yet it is winter that tells the most dramatic story. In severe storms, runoff from the mountains collects in the Sepulveda Basin, which serves as a form of flood control. Rainfall and runoff often result in the wildlife area and surrounding land becoming submerged under many feet of water.