Places to Visit: the East Fork of the San Gabriel River and the Bridge to Nowhere

August 22, 2012 § 4 Comments

The Bridge to Nowhere over the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, photos by Carrie Lincourt

Last week, a friend and I took a really great hike up the East Fork of the San Gabriel River to the Bridge to Nowhere. It’s an excellent local day hike (9.5 miles round trip) that I highly recommend, though it’s probably best done during cooler seasons – say between late September and early June.  « Read the rest of this entry »

What would Snow White say? Disney Ranch to culvert a small stream and cut down 158 oaks

June 4, 2012 § 5 Comments

Snow White’s animal pals are going to be missing some of their woodland at the new Disney campus:

“The Project would require the removal of 158 County Ordinance-protected oak trees, including 16 heritage oak trees, and encroachment upon an additional 82 oak trees, including 3 heritage oaks…” (EIR, V.F-72)

“The Project would permanently impact approximately 0.08 acre (1,181 linear feet) of ACOE/RWQCB jurisidictional area…The Project would permanently impact 0.63 acre of CDFG jurisdictional streambed and associated habitat…” (EIR, V.F-81) “ACOE/RWQCB jurisdictional area” is jargon for Water of the US/Water of the State-admittedly, more jargon.  In other words, blue line stream.  You may observe here that status as a Water of the US/Water of the State doesn’t ensure protection, despite many characterizations to that effect, when environmentalists battled to preserve the designation on the LA River.

Existing mapped floodplain area (Zone A at left) to be reduced through Development Area.

Also, while this is most likely the FEMA 100-year storm floodplain shown on this map, as creekfreaks already know, floodplains are an essential part of the stream system, reducing the space for it has negative consequences for stream health.

This, as the High Country News recently remembered the loss of the Arcadia Oak Woodlands, albeit for a different reason.  I am grateful that we’re not arguing about Placerita Creek.  But loss of tributaries and confining the main channel’s floodplain are worrisome.  I don’t have time to read and interpret the entire EIR just now, so just letting you know that this on the docket.  AND if you are in the Santa Clarita area, there’s a hearing tonight (June 4) about the project:

6-9PM

Hart Hall

Hart Museum and Park

24151 Newhall Avenue

Newhall, CA 91321

The public has until June 18 to communicate your thoughts on this.  Include photos of an angry Snow White.  Or maybe her evil stepmom (and not the glam one in the theaters right now), standing in the middle of her new ranch.

Comments go to

Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning

Special Projects Section, Room 1362

320 West Temple Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012

or email ctran@planning.lacounty.gov

Mirror, Mirror on the wall…

Based on this piece in the Whittier Daily News, Snow White’s pals will also have to hop around oil rigs on open space purchased with allocations from the County of LA’s Proposition A, which is a funding source designated for recreation, parks, and open space.

Where’s Princess Mononoke when you need her?

Cyclist Creek Freaks: Steward Malibu Creek June 23 2012

May 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Volunteer crews at an earlier Mountains Restoration Trust Malibu Creek event

If you bike and you want to help out Malibu Creek, then here’s an event for you. On Saturday June 23rd from 9am-12noon, the Mountains Restoration Trust and Heal the Bay are hosting a work day to remove invasive plants at Malibu Creek State Park. Malibu Creek is one of the last remaining steelhead trout streams in Southern California.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on a One-Way Morro Bay Watershed Sign

May 9, 2012 § 7 Comments

I just returned from a very enjoyable vacation in San Luis Obispo, California. I stayed in downtown SLO and, a few times, bicycled out to the Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve, about ten miles away. As I was bicycling west on Los Osos Valley Road a cresting a ridgeline, in the midst of agricultural fields, I saw this sign along the highway:

Watershed signage along Los Osos Valley Road

It reads “MORRO BAY ESTUARY WATERSHED / KEEP IT CLEAN / ENTERING.”  « Read the rest of this entry »

Urgent action needed: identify City of LA creeks for protection under ordinance

March 7, 2012 § 5 Comments

Creek Freaks, I am posting this message on behalf of Shelley Luce, Executive Director, and Mark Abramson, their Senior Watershed Advisor.  They need your help by Friday March 16.  I have my own comment to add following their request:

Send us your Streams and Creeks!

Calling all Creek Freaks! The Santa Monica By Restoration Commission needs your help identifying and locating streams and creeks in the City of Los Angeles. The City is creating a stream protection ordinance designed to protect the few remaining healthy creeks within the City limits. They have requested a list of streams and creeks that should be protected. We are asking all our friends and creek enthusiasts to send us pictures and locations of creeks within the City so that we can ensure their protection. If you have a favorite creek spot that you feel warrants protection please send the location (preferably latitude and longitude, a picture, and any information that you might have about the stream or creek. The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission will then visit these sites and compile a list of streams and creeks that should be protected for the inclusion in the City of Los Angeles’ Stream Protection Ordinance.  Please send any information to  smbrc@waterboards.ca.gov using the subject line Protect this Stream. Your efforts will help protect these few remaining special places for generations to come. « Read the rest of this entry »

Hope takes the 3:10 to Yuma (and the lower Colorado River)

December 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Speaking of the lower Colorado River, check out this wonderful video giving some historical context, issues and hope:

Click on image for link to video.

The rebound of bird species is particularly notable with this restoration project, where the prior, degraded, condition included filled channels, disconnected wetlands, and a lack of natural flooding resulting in the loss of habitat diversity and a thicket of non-native species.  Reflecting on some local arguments, I see that a combo of hand labor and big machines were used, dredging for floodplains and re-establishment of channels.  Restoring flooding with “industrial style” restoration with adaptive management techniques might not always be so bad after all…

For more info, here’s a slide show and an article in the journal Ecological Restoration.

Thanks to Fred Phillips, a Flagstaff-based landscape architect, who shared this link about his work with me when I went to visit the Friends of the Rio de Flag earlier this year.

 

County Supervisors make their mark on the Santa Clara River

October 6, 2011 § 4 Comments

We get so excited about our steps to mitigate (at beaucoup bucks) the environmental harm caused by the historical destruction of our waterways, that we often lose sight of our remaining natural waterways, that are impaired and under siege by ongoing efforts to build on floodplains, straighten, channelize, pond, dam and otherwise alter.  I wonder sometimes if this is because we are more excited by the human handprint on the landscape than we are awed by the natural processes that are greater than us.  Or is turning away of our gaze a kind of fist-shake at nature for being continually humbled?

The Santa Clara River, last natural big river in our region, the one that should be our point of reference for restoring the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, that can really help us to postulate our way out of the sediment dilemma of debris dams and spoiled woodlands to floodplains and sediment transport, will bear new markings of that human handprint.

For new development will soon mark the floodplain of the Santa Clara River at the “Landmark Village.”

It won’t just be the river and its habitat that loses. That river is at risk, and needs a larger community of support to protect it, but don’t kid yourself – the little handprint of Landmark Village can be easily swiped away in a large enough storm, poised as it is on the inside bend of a river that will be constricted by development.  There may someday be a landmark that says, Here Once Laid the Landmark Village. A companion sign to the St. Francis Dam disaster sign much further upstream.  One more ruin in a heritage of hubris.

County Supervisors Knabe, Molina and Antonovich approved the first phase of the Newhall Ranch project.  Ridley-Thomas and Yaroslavsky were absent for this important vote.

In the news:  Landmark Village gets green light – Daily News

Processes of becoming: water and wastewater in some Northwest urban landscapes

October 2, 2011 § 4 Comments

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last week I spent time in a city where rivers and streams are so much a fabric of the culture, they are a character in public life, possibly even approaching equals along with salmon, Microsoft, clearcut forest, and eagles… « Read the rest of this entry »

Militant Angeleno on the Creeks of UCLA

August 31, 2011 § 6 Comments

Click for bigger UCLA creek images at Militant Angeleno blog site

There’s an excellent article today at Militant Angeleno where he tracks down and maps the lost creeks running through the UCLA campus in Westwood. The piece includes plenty of photos and a great map. Here’s an excerpt:

There were four waterways that ran through the UCLA campus – all north from the Santa Monica Mountains down south eventually towards Ballona Creek – just like the other two rivers that The Militant retraced. There was (from west to east) the West Arroyo, Foothill Stream, Stone Canyon Creek and East Arroyo.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Development Threatens Santiago Creek in Orange County

April 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

The city of Orange's Sully Miller site, where Santiago Creek is theatened. Photo courtesy Joel Robinson

An Orange County Creek Freak contacted us about helping get the word out on an effort to preserve a natural stretch of Santiago Creek, located in the city of Orange. In his initial email to us, Joel Robinson, the Watershed Coordinator for the Santiago Creek Watershed Preservation and Restoration Project, stated:

There are a few significant pieces of open space threatened by inappropriate developments along Santiago Creek.  Least Bell’s Vireo [endangered songbird species] occur in the area and the developer has already removed habitat within the floodplain and plans to develop in an area where open space is very limited.

Though I grew up not far from there, and know the area where Santiago Creek meets the Santa Ana River, I confess that I am not familiar with the actual threatened area, called the Sully Miller property, after a former sand and gravel company located there. It’s located in the northeast edge of the city, near the interesection of East Santiago Canyon Road and Cannon Street – just downstream of Santiago Oaks Regional Park.

Here’s an aerial that details the site: (Santiago Creek is, of course, the green band meandering near the top of the image.)

Aerial photo showing Santiago Creek through the Sully Miller property - courtesy of Joel Robinson

Jessica and I asked Joel Robinson to contribute an article about the threat to this stretch of Santiago Creek. His piece apears below. For additional information, see the Orange Park Acres Community Action website.

Over 100 acres of open space are threatened along Santiago Creek within the sprawling community of East Orange!  The Sully-Miller property, serves as a major wildlife corridor for large mammals, including bobcats, coyotes, and deer. It has the potential to be a neighborhood nature park with interconnected trails, various wildlife habitats, and a natural flowing creek.  It supports the occurrence of  the endangered least bell’s vireo (federally protected bird), pacific treefrog, the heron family, Nuttall’s woodpecker, northern flicker, California quail, roadrunner, red-tailed hawk, and many other wildlife species.  Unfortunately, the owner known as JMI Real Estate (John Martin) plans to break the rules set by almost 40 years of planning in our neighborhoods in Orange Park Acres and East Orange.
 
The rules were established long ago:
Orange Park Acres Specific Plan (1973)
East Orange Community Plan (1975)
Santa Ana River/Santiago Creek Greenbelt Plan (1973)
Santiago Creek Implementation Plan (1976)

Now Martin and his investors want to rewrite all the rules so they can profit from a 265 unit high-rise/high-density development plus a 130 unit-housing tract, and an 81,000 square foot YMCA building.  (The average Wal-Mart is 97,000 square feet)  JMI invested $40,000 in political contributions in the 2010 Orange elections, but they can’t buy the support of the neighbors who will have to live with the traffic and the negative impacts on our homes.

JMI bulldozed extensive wildflower meadows, mature willows, mulefat scrub, and vernal pools to accommodate a temporary landfill and concrete recycling center.  In addition, JMI closed a local farm and produce stand.  The Ridgeline Country Club, a valued community recreation center, was closed to be redeveloped as estates.
 
When Fieldstone tried for tract housing in 2003 over 9,000 people in the city of Orange said NO.

For more information and to get involved, go to Orange Park Acres Community Action.

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