Ballona Creek Rain Gardens in Action

October 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

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Rain always means going out to watch the water rise, and this morning a friend and I hustled out to Ballona Creek to the check out the recently completed rain gardens in action.  I posted about them here and  here.  When I got home a few hours later, the County’s rain gage indicated that Ballona Creek near there had received 0.8″ – so this was a healthy first test for the rain gardens.  Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission staff were out taking samples and observing its performance as well – and now doubt we will all be eagerly watching how the gardens adjust and adapt to the season’s flows.

Duck Die-Off on Ballona Creek

August 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Creekfreaks, sad news of a duck die-off on lower Ballona Creek, same general vicinity as our last post on Ballona.  That’s all we know at this point.  Lisa Fimiani, Executive Director of Friends of Ballona Wetlands sent the word out to Ballona Creek Stakeholders – follow the jump for her email. « Read the rest of this entry »

One district, poised to harm an entire nation

July 27, 2011 § 6 Comments

There’s a lot riding on this season’s federal discretionary spending allocations.  Literally – House Republicans have been attaching riders to the bills moving through the House to block many environmental programs, and some of these riders read like love letters to special interests.  If you are already involved in environmental causes, you’ve probably seen emails or posts about this.

Some of these riders have implications locally – here’s some delicacies from H.R. 2584:

  • If you think the Navigable Waters of the U.S. designation that triggers Clean Water Act protection should apply to our at times flashy western rivers and streams, there is a rider that will restrict the EPA and the Army Corps to Bush-era definitions of navigability, in other words, not cover our waterways if their current designations were challenged.  Remember last year’s victory declaring the L.A. River navigable?  The agencies charged with protecting our waterways wouldn’t have been able to make that declaration under this rider. (See Section 435 of the bill text);
  • The EPA would also be restricted in its ability to oversee how water is used to cool power plants.  The intakes of power plants suck in and kill significant quantities of marine life locally, one of the reasons this affects our local ecosystems. (Section 436);
  • Congress would also require additional studies and delays in the implementation of urban stormwater (runoff) management regulations. (Section 439);
  • Do you have a bad taste in your mouth yet? If you like that special flavor methyl bromide, atrazine, diazinon, or glyphosate adds to your produce, you will like it even more in your water!  (Title V) You can thank Representative Simpson (R-ID) -also the author of the previous gems – for adding a rider to prohibit the EPA from regulating its application and discharge into Waters of the U.S. Not that you will have any Waters of the U.S. in your vicinity anymore anyway.

The NRDC is keeping a running list of the riders* as they bubble up.  Unfettering of agricultural pollution discharges into Florida wetlands; cutting loose on mountaintop coal mining and stream destruction in Appalachia; radioactive waste storage near groundwater that, uh, may feed the Colorado River at the hotly debated Yucca Mountain site; uranium mining near the Grand Canyon; banning restrictions on Great Lakes ballast water that is intended to prevent the spread of invasive species; and several riders that impact, as in halt, the recovery of Pacific salmon are a sampling of the issues that pertain to those of us with national Creekfreak tendencies – and the riders go on and on, degrading our air quality, integrity of land and wildlife management, and of course sticking it to greenhouse gas emissions regulations.

But if you wanted to share your thoughts about these issues with the gentleman from Idaho, who put forward many of these eyepoppers, I have to warn you – his website has a filter to prevent you from contacting him unless you have an Idaho zipcode.  He may represent one district, but he stands poised to harm an entire nation.

*From which I’ve cribbed these notes – with additional info from

Chunking concrete on Ballona Creek

May 5, 2011 § 2 Comments


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Is that concrete coming out of the channel? Almost – but no enchilada.   But doesn’t this visual of big equipment removing concrete chunks  just fuel the imagination, gladden the heart, enliven the spirit… well, maybe only for a select cadre of oddballs such as myself and maybe you.

 Hanford ARC is building stormwater raingardens along the top-of-channel easement of Ballona Creek, a project funded by the Santa Monica Bay Restoraton Foundation (via your federal ARRA dollars), brainchild of Mark Abramson, and following the spirit of the Ballona Watershed Task Force’s Ballona Greenway Subcommittee and the Ballona Creek Greenway Plan. So there’s no change to the channel itself.

But back to the concrete. The contractors, while excavating the upper banks for future terraced walls that will capture and treat drainage from 22.5 acres, came across concrete – lots of it, as you can see here.  Surprise! And in a few months there will be a native garden, another step towards a greener Ballona Creek.

Fish Kill in Redondo

March 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today’s great distraction for this beachside CreekFreak were the helicopters signifying a Happening.

As has already been all over the news, there was a massive fish kill in Redondo Beach’s King Harbor. It is believed that the fish were running, er, swimming from predators and rough seas, and sought shelter in the calm waters behind the breakwaters. So many went in there that the water’s dissolved oxygen became depleted. No pollutants have been detected, not even the usual suspects that come with rainfall, nutrients, or red tide.

And so, everyone concludes: freaky but natural causes.

As natural as a man-made cul-de-sac marina.

Recent updates: a victory, a Greenway Plan, and a continuance

March 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

A Greenway Plan: Adams Flood Control Channel aka Arroyo La Cienega, "on punk rock," to paraphrase a friend. Image: Joshua Link, Ecotone Studios.

A victory, a Greenway Plan, and a continuance helped to define recent weeks for this LA CreekFreak.

First victory. Altadena bloggers and residents celebrated the award of funding for acquisition of land in Rubio Canyon, preserving public access and restoration of some land there. Congrats to the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy for the State grant and successful coordination effort to bring it all together.

A Greenway Plan! More about this in a separate post. A personal project spanning five years, first as Ballona Creek Watershed Coordinator and later as a landscape designer, is finally complete and posted for public view and use. The Ballona Creek Greenway Plan resulted from stakeholder creek-walks and design charettes, strategy sessions with Natural Channel Design and Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission staff, and hydraulic modeling and design work of the Restoration Design Group team.  Downloadable at the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission website.

And a continuance. The Stone Canyon Creek hearing has been continued for a month or more. Thanks for the letters written by community members, agency reps and the kids at University Elementary School, whose school sits on the creek at UCLA – this is not over yet! And also, thanks to the student and community volunteers – including rumored hungover frat boys – and SMBRC staff who have been working hard to restore Stone Creek on the UCLA campus.

News and Events – 8 January 2011

January 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Act now to save Arcadia's threatened oaks! Photo by ecotonestudios


> If you haven’t read Josh’s article yesterday about the urgency of action to prevent the county’s astonishingly wrong-headed plans for burying Arcadia’s oak woodlands – read it and take action! Demolition is scheduled to begin next week. Here’s a set of links of  yesterday’s blogger solidarity day post to save this irreplaceable site: Altadena Hiker, ArcadiaPatchBallona BlogBipedality, Breathing TreatmentChance of Rain, Echoes, Greensward CivitasL.A. Creek Freak, L.A. Eco-Village, L.A. ObservedPasadena AdjacentPasadena Daily Photo, Pasadena Real Estate with Brigham Yen, Slow Water!, The Sky is Big in Pasadena, Temple City Daily Photo and Weeding Wild Suburbia. Thanks also to Sierra Madre Tattler!

> Oiled Wildlife Care Network reports an oil spill in the Dominguez Channel on December 22nd 2010. Their team “recovered three oiled birds:  one Pied-billed grebe, which died, and two American Coots.”  As of January 4th, OWCN reports that  “no responsible party has been identified, and the source of the spill remains unknown.” Full story at link.

> ArroyoLover reports on the drawbacks (pun intended) of new archery range fencing proposed for Pasadena’s Lower Arroyo Seco Nature Park.

> L.A.’s Daily News reports a Shadow Hills incident where a “car raced downhill, bouncing over speed bumps before brushing by horse and rider, spooking them to the curb. [The horse was] injured [and ultimately perished] when she became trapped in a storm drain debris screen[...]. The driver did not stop.” Interestingly the article calls for changes to the storm drain trash grates, but seems to let the criminal speeding driver off the hook. Full story at link.

> If you think L.A.’s La Niña rains were bad, read Circle of Blue‘s reports on disastrous El Niño rains in Colombia and Venezuela.

> The Los Angeles Times has an impressive photo of water churning through the San Gabriel Dam during recent tests. Also at L.A. Times: environmentalists file suit to block Newhall Ranch development imperiling the Santa Clara River. And, further afield, plans for the future health of the Klamath River.

> The Project For Public Spaces has an extensive conference proceedings document that serves as a sort of handbook for waterfront design/place-making. Their top recommendations (as distilled by me) are: multiple destinations, connected by trails for walking and bicycling.

Drastic Declines in World Fisheries - New York Times via Cyborg Vegan Cannibals

>Cyborg Vegan Cannibals has two scary graphs on the precipitous decline of world fisheries. One above and the other at the link. Maybe it’s time to watch Dan Barber’s video again. (Thanks to TrueLoveHealth for sharing the CVC link!)


> The city of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation hosts a Low Impact Development update on Thursday January 20th 2011 at 1pm at their Media Center Offices. Details at L.A. Stormwater Blog.

Two Videos featuring Andy Lipkis

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here are a couple of videos that creek freaks will enjoy; both feature Andy Lipkis the founder and soul of TreePeople. Above, Lipkis explains the Elmer Avenue green street. Below, Majora Carter‘s (who has lots of creek freak cred from her work on waterfront restoration on the Bronx River) new talk tells three environmental entrepeneurship tales, including Lipkis’ work to green L.A. schools.

Downloadable “creekwatch” application

November 22, 2010 § 5 Comments

Doing the rounds recently is this link to a free Creek Watch application for iPhones and iPods, developed by IBM. It allows users to upload a photo and data to a common map, recording data about flow, trash, or other observations. Developed for the State Water Control Board, most of the posted observations seem to be in the Bay Area. Let’s get some LA sites on the map!

Thanks to the various folks who forwarded this link to me, including Boyd Waters and Karina Johnston.

Green Street Sidewalks in Downtown L.A.

November 19, 2010 § 1 Comment

When Creek Freak posted our article about the city of Los Angeles’ recent Riverdale green street project, we received a comment from AHBE – a landscape architecture and environmental design firm located in Culver City, headed by Calvin Abe. I’ve been aware of AHBE from their support of Friends of the L.A. River, their creative contributions to Park(ing) Day and their rain garden projects – shown in more detail below. AHBE’s video (above) gives a good context for green streets, then profiles North East TreesOros Street and AHBE projects downtown and proposed for South L.A. « Read the rest of this entry »

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