Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning

Significant Ecological Areas

Local and Site Specific Habitat Linkages and Wildlife Corridors

Habitat linkages connecting core areas of open space can mitigate the detrimental effects of shrinking habitat availability and wildlife population isolation. Typically, habitat in the SEAs consists of large contiguous blocks (core habitat areas) with intervening areas of roads, rural residential development, and other low intensity disturbance. A primary goal of any land use within SEAs should be to maintain high levels of connectivity between core habitat areas via a network of core open space areas and wide linkages and corridors. Such linkages should make use of natural topographic features (ridge lines and drainages), vegetative cover (woodlands and scrub), water sources (streams, springs, and ponds), and road undercrossings (bridges and culverts). Below are descriptions of habitat linkages and wildlife corridors:

Habitat Linkages: Areas which possess sufficient cover, food, water or other essential elements to serve as a movement pathway, or between two or more larger areas of habitat are referred to as “habitat linkages.” These linkages can be large or small depending on the species it serves. An example of a small linkage would be a belt of coastal sage scrub traversing a development, and connecting sage scrub habitat areas on either side, providing a “safe passage” zone for smaller, slower-moving species such as lizards and rodents to maintain population connectivity between the two sides of the developed area.

Wildlife Corridors: Areas of open space of sufficient width to permit larger, more mobile species (such as foxes, bobcats and coyote) to pass between larger areas of open space, or to disperse from one major open space region to another are referred to as “wildlife corridors.” Such areas generally are several hundred feet wide, unobstructed, and usually possess cover, food and water. The upland margins of a creek channel, open ridgelines, open valleys or the bottoms of drainages often serve as major corridors locally, as do riparian alignments. Corridors used by mountain lions require even wider open space areas to maintain movement opportunities.

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