The Madrona Marsh is owned by the City of Torrance. It is kept in perpetuity as a wildlife preserve and in under the stewardship of the City's Park and Community Services Department. The City is the employer of any paid personnel that work at Madrona Marsh and Nature Preserve Center.
The Friends of Madrona Marsh is a non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to the preservation, education, and aesthetics of the Madrona Marsh Preserve. The organization are the stewards and advocates for the Preserve and works in coordination with the City of Torrance. They create program, are sponsors, and conduct activities that promote the understanding, enjoyment and preservation of the marsh. Members and volunteers also lead tours as docents and assist in Nature Center and Preserve projects The Friends of Madrona Marsh has been the backbone of the Madrona Marsh Preserve for more than forty years.
In 1972, a meeting of more than 50 people was held in the old City Hall Council Chambers to organize a support group for the preservation of a potential wildlife park (future site of the Preserve) in Torrance as identified in the Griffenhagen-Kroeger Report in February 1971.
In September 20, 1973, a group of people attended the meeting called by The City of Torrance to discuss community involvement in saving the wildlife area. The group was then called the Friends of Madrona Pond.
Sam Suit was elected president of the group. Katy Geissert, then a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, was on the first board of directors. Grace Lear took over Sam Suit's position when he moved to Australia.
From then on, and with a name change, the Friends of Madrona Marsh continued lobbying to obtain the dedication of 35 acres for the marsh. Venora Lee, Dr. David Morafka and Edith Simplaar wrote a grant proposal for State License Plate funds -- $1.5 million to be earmarked for purchasing the Madrona Marsh Preserve Land.
In June 1975, Friends of Madrona Marsh paid $1,000 for a study to be made by graduate students at Madrona.
In September 1976, the "Wildlife Habitat Study" was completed by the graduate students with the assistance from the Long Beach Audubon Society. A consultant was hired from the Audubon Society to produce a site development map, interpretive building design and external renditions for the Preserve.
In the early 1980's, the Torrance Investment Company, a partnership of Watt Homes, Anderson Properties, Sherl Curci and Santa Fe Energy (landowner), became seriously interested in developing the property north of Sepulveda Blvd., between Madrona Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard, which included the Madrona Marsh land.
In September 25, 1980, Watt Industries offered the Friends of Madrona Marsh 15 acres with land value of $400,000 an acre. In December, the developers withdrew their offer and thereafter, offered to "move" Madrona Marsh to Columbia Park. When Park del Amo Development plan, on behalf of Watt Industries, presented their plans to the City Council in February 1982, 350 supporters of the Madrona Marsh swamped the meeting. The City Council favored the developers.
On May 4, 1982, the Friends of Madrona Marsh, the League of Women Voters and homeowners' groups gathered 14,000 signatures (more than double the amount required) to petition the City to stop the development. While signatures were being solicited for a ballot referendum, Betty Shaw, who took over Grace Lear's position as the President, with a committee, negotiated with the developers, and an agreement to save the Marsh was reached before the referendum was filed.
On November 14, 1984, when the dedication ceremony was completed, it was discovered that the deed contained a reversionary clause that transfers the land back to the developers if the land was not used for a nature center and Preserve. Friends of Madrona Marsh sued for Fee Simple Deed and after two years for the City of Torrance to receive title to the land and for Madrona Marsh to be saved in perpetuity.
The Friends of Madrona Marsh (FOMM) Board of Directors plans actions which support the FOMM Mission, Goals, Objectives and Policies.
A volunteer position, Board members are elected by FOMM members at the annual January meeting and serve a 3-year term. There are 12 Board of Director positions. Directors meet monthly on the second Wednesday of each month. Meetings are open to FOMM members and to the public.
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