In Depth Preview: Surfridge Estates serving as LA's environmental gem

A major restoration effort is being planned for the dunes near LAX. The history behind the natural habitat is so rich. 

Developed in the 1920s and 1930s, it was an expensive neighborhood called Surfridge. 

"It was sold as a place where you could have enchanted days and romantic nights. It was the sand, the sea, the air. It was all the romance of Southern California in one place," said travel blogger Sandi Hammerlein.

It was exclusive oceanfront property! But as LAX grew Surfridge shrunk and eventually vanished, leaving behind dunes that surprisingly became home to almost 1,000 species of flora and fauna.

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"This is a very unique habitat that a lot of species rely in and the ‘blue butterfly’ in particular. It’s host plant is Seacliff Buckwheat. It won’t use any other kind of plant. It just uses that. It has its whole life cycle is on this one native plant and the non-natives and evasive that come in here," said Chris Enyard with the Bay Foundation. "They can threaten that." 

"Back in 1973, this area was closed off partly due to the El Segundo Blue Butterfly. It was listed in 1976 as a federally endangered species," said environmentalist Nancy Price. 

What no one expected was that the dunes would become home to over 900 species of plants and animals.

It’s a reminder of days gone by and the revitalization of nature in LA’s own backyard. "I think it’s important to have something to give back to future generations. Really, you’re given this opportunity to make something of it. And, you’re able to share it with your family; share it with community that come here," said Price.

We’ll have more Sunday on FOX 11 News In Depth at 9:30 a.m. and at noon on KCOP Channel 13.

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