Five questions for the new director of the Audubon Center at Debs Park

Marcos Trinidad | Brenda Rees


MONTECITO HEIGHTS — Taking over the reins as the new director of the Audubon Center at Debs Park, Marcos Trinidad sees a larger picture of wildlife well beyond what can be focused inside a pair of binoculars.

Some of his many goals as the new director of the bird-centric facility are to continue to increase volunteers and docent programs as a way to keep the community connected to the local flora and fauna. The current Native Plant Nursery, supported by the National Park Service, continues to be instrumental in restoring the native habitat, which will in turn welcome bees, butterflies and, of course, birds.

Growing up in Highland Park (his parents met at the bus stop on Ave 43 and Griffin Avenue, and his grandmother still lives on Griffin one block away from Debs), Trinidad says his favorite memories as a kid were hanging out along the Arroyo Seco River and kicking around Debs Park. His two kids, 6-year-old Paloma and 3-year-old Bija, enjoy hanging out with dad at “the office” by climbing the trees and watching the wildlife in the Audubon Center courtyard.

Trinidad, who replaced Sarah Miggins after she took a position with the American Conservation Experience, answered a few questions about his new job:

How long have you been involved with the Audubon Center at Debs Park?

For many years I coordinated Audubon’s Youth Environmental Stewards (YES) programs out of the South Bay. Through them I connected with the Arroyo Green Team and we did a lot of programs and field trips together and I started using the office space at Debs Park and helping out with their programs. I officially started working here about 2 years ago as the volunteer/operations manager.

Why is the Native Plant Nursery so important? Isn’t Audubon just about birds?

That project is directly in line with Audubon’s National Strategic Plan to connect and create bird-friendly communities. If visitors see how native plants are used here, that will encourage them to create habitats in their own homes. Our biggest challenge is to remind people that in LA, native plants are not always lush and green. Beautiful flowers die and seeds are scattered. Right now, many of them look dead, but that’s the cycle and there are reasons for the cycle.

What are the hurdles you face when it comes to restoration?

There are so many different approaches to how to manage restoration projects; here we have public land that people visit daily which can present threats to the environment. People walking dogs into the park and not picking up after them. Leaving trash. Walking off-trail. Homeless camps. We can’t just say,” Just get rid of them,” because this is a much bigger issue. This organization is not just about birds and wildlife; it’s about people and how we interact with each other.

Is your role bigger than overseeing the facility?

This is not just managing our 17 acres, but the 282 acres that are here in Debs Park and helping chart how this space will be used. How can we engage the community in projects, science research and volunteering? It’s a lot to think about.

You are an avid birder; what’s your favorite bird in the park?

I have two. I get excited to see the California thrashers and if I get here early enough in the day, I can find them. I’m also excited to see our great horned owls; they like to hang out at Peanut Lake.

The Audubon Center offers volunteer work days every Wednesday and Saturdays. Visit Audubon Center in Debs Park to find out more.

Brenda Rees is a writer and resident of Eagle Rock.

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