Users of the popular 7.2-mile Ballona Creek Trail andBike Path between Culver City and Marina del Rey may now notice some new improvements designed to beautify the trail and educate the public about the creek’s connection to the area.

The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) has announced the installation of a new signage and public safety enhancement program along the Ballona Creek trail. The major improvement project, funded by a State of California Natural Resources Agency River Parkways Grant, includes 12 coordinated, interpretive exhibits, 14,000 linear feet of new bike path striping, and seven coordinated Ballona Creek identification signs.

A matching fund grant from Los Angeles County Proposition A provided for additional improvements including planting, seating, and water fountains at gateways to the bike path, an MRCA spokesperson said.

“This project will beautify and improve safety and access to this important recreational resource,” said Joseph T. Edmiston, executive officer of MRCA. “At the same time, the exhibits will enhance public understanding of the creek, its natural history, and its connection to the local mountains and the Santa Monica Bay.”

The signage project is the latest of many public works projects and improvements to the Ballona Creek Trail and Bike Path completed by the MRCA in the last five years. The authority recently designed and constructed new landscaping and improvements to the gateway at Duquense Avenue, and constructed a loop trail connecting Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook to Culver City Park and the Ballona path.

Other improvements included new gateways to the trail and bike path at Sepulveda Boulevard, Inglewood Boulevard, McConnell Avenue, and Centinela Avenue that feature artist-designed decorative gates, native plant landscaping, seating, drinking fountains and bike racks.

Officials with the authority say these improvements have dramatically modernized the bike path, encouraged increased recreational use, and enhanced the neighborhoods in which they have been developed.

All of the gateways now include newly installed interpretive signs. The signs, which were extensively researched with assistance from local project partners and experts on the creek’s history, provide information about local birds, native plants, fish, the watershed, and the history of the creek, according to MRCA.

In addition, aerial locator maps at key locations help to identify area parks, bike routes, various access points to the bike path and other information about how to help keep Ballona Creek and the Santa Monica Bay clean.

All of the signage includes a new bird logo designed by MRCA staff that features the state endangered Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, which lives year-round in the Ballona Wetlands. The signs help raise awareness of the creek to motorists and trail users, authority officials say.