LAX-Adjacent Ghost Town Now ‘Priceless Coastal Real Estate’ for Rare Owls

A burrowing owl appears in an undated photo next to its den at the LAX Dunes Preserve, at the west end of the airport's runways. (Credit: U.S. Geological Survey via Los Angeles Times)

A burrowing owl appears in an undated photo next to its den at the LAX Dunes Preserve, at the west end of the airport's runways. (Credit: U.S. Geological Survey via Los Angeles Times)

When the Los Angeles beachfront community of Surfridge disappeared decades ago to make way for the jet age, nature was slow to reclaim the sandy dunes and upscale lots that once dominated the path of planes taking off from Los Angeles International Airport.

Today however, this 2-mile ghost town of vanished homes supports a growing list of protected and endangered species that have somehow adapted to the throttled-up roar of passenger jets. Surrounded by hurricane fencing and “no trespassing” signs, the LAX Dunes Preserve is now a haven for some of the rarest creatures in California.

Scientists were elated by the recent discovery of 10 burrowing owls hunkered down in the 302-acre preserve — the most seen here in four decades. Among the raptors are a breeding pair that stand guard over a nest and hiss at occasional passersby.

“This is very exciting — a real stunner,” said Pete Bloom, a biologist and avian expert who was helping to conduct a wildlife survey this month.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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