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Offering Local, Accessible Environmental Education

Why a San Gabriel River Discovery Center?

The San Gabriel River Discovery Center creates a learning facility and community gathering spot for some of the most economically and environmentally stressed communities in California. An estimated twenty percent of the 10 million people within the area surrounding the San Gabriel River Discovery Center live in communities designated as low-income and are considered disproportionately vulnerable to multiple sources of pollution according to the Cal Enviro Screen interactive map created by the California Environmental Protection Agency. The San Gabriel River Discovery Center project offers educational opportunities to students living within fifteen miles of the Whittier Narrows Recreational Center, 26.5% of who live below the poverty line.

The nearest water education and environmental facilities are miles away:

  • The Aquarium of the Pacific provides watershed education but is at the shoreline in Long Beach
  • Cabrillo Marine Aquarium educates about how what we toss on the ground inland affects watersheds and the ocean—it’s in San Pedro
  • Madrona Marsh Preserve and Nature Center is in Torrance
  • SEA Lab, a science center marine dedicated to marine conservation and education programs, is in Redondo Beach

That’s a far reach for inland students since years of budget cuts have reduced transportation for field trips.

The San Gabriel River Discovery Center offers environmental and water management education both locally and accessibly, so visitors can appreciate the present watershed environment.

Young people can hike the trails, view interpretive elements and try to understand the history of the area—what the river means to the Native Americans who originally lived in the region and intimately understood the land, water, animals and plants.

The Discovery Center project creates a community space that invites San Gabriel Valley residents into the environmental discussion. A place to think about and discuss eco-systems and water—vital issues given our state drought.

The project supports revitalization of the local watershed where the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo Rivers join near Whittier Narrows. Stage one of the development creates a covered outdoor classroom for young eco-scholars, re-plants oaks, provides a constructed wetland and naturalized bioswale, and refurbishes trails.

The planned interpretive center is an innovative, place-based environmental resource to combine the study of natural science—water resources and related watershed management issues—with educational programming that interprets the San Gabriel River watershed, encourages exploration and increases understanding, appreciation and stewardship of a revitalized San Gabriel River region.