• Afternoon clouds cover the distance peaks of the iconic Boney Mountain

    Santa Monica Mountains

    National Recreation Area California

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  • Water Shut Off, Solstice Canyon 4/15/2014

    4/15/2014: The water will be shut off at Solstice Canyon all day. This will affect the water fountain and hand-washing stations at the restrooms.

Mediterranean Ecosystem

The Mediterranean Type Climate zone lies between the 30 and 40 degree parallels.

Each of the areas indicated in yellow reveal the Mediterranean Type Climate Zones. These regions are among the most populous on Earth.

NPS map

The Mediterranean ecosystem occurs only in five relatively small areas around the planet: the area bordering the Mediterranean Sea, central Chile, the Cape region of South Africa, southwestern and southern Australia, and, of course, southern California and northern Baja California. These areas are distributed between roughly 30 and 40 degrees latitude – north and south – and are located along the western edges of continents where the climate, characterized by mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers, is moderated by cold ocean currents offshore.

Throughout the world, the Mediterranean ecosystem is characterized by evergreen or drought deciduous shrublands. The chaparral of southern California is echoed in the old world Mediterranen maquis, the Chilean matorral, South African fynbos and the Australian mallee scrub communities. Due to the limited extent and isolation (almost island-like) of each area of the Mediterranean ecosystem, there is frequently a high degree of endemism in the flora and fauna.

The five Mediterranean regions have been highly favored and impacted by humans for habitation, agriculture and recreation. As a result, this ecosystem type (which only occurs on about two percent of the earth's total land area) is one of the most highly altered on the planet and contains the least undisturbed area of any ecosystem. The high degree of urbanization along the southern California coastline has resulted in the loss of significant natural areas and increasing human impacts to natural systems. Nevertheless the Mediterranean-type ecosystem of southern California has been identified as one of the world's "hot spots" for biodiversity. Additionally, the southern California bight, an ecologically unique area of near-shore Pacific Ocean coastal habitat extending from Point Conception south and encompassing the San Diego area, provides conditions that promote high species richness and diversity.

Did You Know?

Sue Nelson, Jill Swift, and Margo Feurer were instrumental in the movement to create a national recreation area near Los Angeles.

Four state parks were the triumph of a grassroots movement to protect open spaces minutes from Los Angeles in the 1950s & 60s. Three women, Sue Nelson, Jill Swift, and Margo Feuer further galvanized the movement that helped make Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area a reality in 1978.