October 4, 2012 § 2 Comments
As the heat of summer slowly (hopefully) begins to wind down, so too has the second season of the pioneering L.A. River kayak and canoe excursions. The final group dropped into the River this past Sunday, an undoubtedly leisurely paddle between willows and sycamores, shopping carts and plastic bags. The 2012 installment hosted approximately 2,000 participants, an impressive increase from 2011, when the count for the pilot program was 260. The number of outfits operating on the River has also doubled and now includes Paddle the L.A. River (organized by L.A. Conservation Corps, MRCA, The River Project, FoLAR and Urban Semillas) and L.A. River Expeditions (organized by George Wolfe and the San Joaquin River Stewardship Program). I had the pleasure of paddling with both groups as a guest educator (thanks to Melanie Winter and George Wolfe for getting me out there!), a journey every Angeleno within reach of a buoyant non-motorized vessel should be able to experience at least once. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 23, 2012 § 4 Comments
This week’s New Yorker magazine cover, dated August 27th 2012, depicts a lush green Manhattan. It’s Times Square; there are tall buildings, green roofs, a waterfall, a river, grazing buffalo, a canoe, a horse, people sitting around. To me, it kind of looks kind of like paradise – a city in harmony with nature. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 19, 2012 § 5 Comments
I love to see people get creekfreaky, so it was a good day last Friday when friends posted the Eastsider’s story linking to the El Sereno Historical Society’s post on Arroyo Rosa Castilla, the creek that formerly ran along the 710 Freeway. (Creek Freaks have long observed the propensity for Caltrans-and others-to lay major roadways in the beds of creeks – viz. Arroyo Seco/110, LA River/5 and 710 Fwys, San Gabriel River/605 Fwy, Topanga Creek and Topanga Canyon Road – and Rosa Castilla here among them). A little sign on the freeway will tell you it is called the Sheriff’s Range Gulch. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 18, 2012 § 1 Comment
OK, thanks to Rick Grubb, I’m getting this with time for you to put it on your calendars!!
The County of LA is having a joint meeting with the USFS on sediment removal of Big Tujunga Dam. Dirt’s all the rage here at LA Creek Freak, as you know. Rick’s also communicated that he wants to see Arroyo Toad back in his region, one of many species that have been impacted by our flood control system.
Here’s the details:
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 6 to 8 p.m.
City of Los Angeles – City Council District 2
Sunland-Tujunga Field Office
7747 Foothill Blvd.
Tujunga, CA 91042 (map)
The United States Forest Service (USFS) and the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works (DPW) will jointly present the Big Tujunga Reservoir Sediment Removal Project. Information will be provided about the project, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The public will have the opportunity to ask questions of the USFS and DPW and comment on the project. Please plan to join us for this meeting.
For More Information:
June 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
Done with our touring of the Colorado River (1, 2, 3) and speed-reading about its issues, my 2nd year graduate landscape architecture design studio dove into planning and design solutions for the river. In the analysis phase, over and over, it was observed that the river ecosystem needed to regain its flooding and sediment dynamics. And over and over, it was observed that the political, human dimension would almost certainly never allow that to happen -regardless of the ecological desert created at the river’s mouth, and regardless of the obvious and dire future of the watershed due to climate change, population growth, and accumulating pollutants (including radioactive spoils behind reservoirs ya’ll!)
Clearly designing for what humans want usually comes at an environmental cost. The ecosystem loses! Even when it’s billed as sustainable, it’s more likely the design is about incrementally less harm to the ecosystem. So in this studio, designers were challenged with having the Colorado River as their Client. How do you work to meet human needs within that mandate? It becomes a much different conversation. Since many students don’t wish to explore “visionary” projects (visionary of course being the polite synonym for politically impossible, er, unrealistic), the studio was structured so that students could also provide concepts that inch us toward’s the River’s restored state, accommodating more of contemporary human uses while weaning us from an unhealthy allocation system. This combination of visionary plotting (mwaahaha) and phased steps towards rehabilitation put together make for a nice master plan.
You can read more about the studio and download most of the studio’s presentations at When the River is Client: Design Explorations of the Lower Colorado River. I hope you will! There’s some great ideas the students came up with.
June 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
It is likely that many folks living in Los Angeles County are either entirely unfamiliar with hydraulic fracturing (fracking for short) or are under the impression it occurs only in distant places such as the Appalachian Basin (Marcellus Shale). This resource extraction process utilizes the high-pressure injection of thousands (and in some cases, millions) of gallons of water, sand and a proprietary blend of up to 600 chemicals (potentially including known carcinogens such as lead, uranium, mercury, ethylene glycol, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid and/or formaldehyde) into deep wells to open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. While the practice is primarily associated with the natural gas industry, fracking is also a method used by the petroleum industry as a means of squeezing more production out of what were previously thought to be exhausted wells.
For the vast majority of Angelenos, it might come as a surprise to find out that there are two local petroleum wells, VIC-1-330 (Baldwin Hills, Plains Exploration & Production Company) and DOM-1 (Dominguez Hills, Occidental Oil and Gas), that have been fracked as recently as January of this year (SOURCE: FracFocus) and according to a recent report by Christine Shearer of Truthout, fracking has occurred in the L.A. basin for some time: « Read the rest of this entry »
May 16, 2012 § 2 Comments
Creek Freak has written about LID – Low Impact Development. It’s basically a sort of “green building” standard that requires new buildings to detain and/or infiltrate rainwater. While I think that LID is a step in the right direction, at least compared to development as usual, it’s nowhere near the end of the work on getting to healthy creeks and streams.
I read a good concise critque of LID (also LEED and green building in general) at Strong Towns today. Strong Towns is a site I’ve been enjoy a lot lately; it’s written by an engineer who has a lot of common sense. He mostly critiques heavily car-centric development patterns. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 15, 2012 § 6 Comments
On the heels of a critical piece of writing by Emily Green on the state of sediment management in Los Angeles (published in the May 14th edition of High Country News), the L.A. County Department of Public Works has completed (as of April) its draft 20-year Sediment Management Strategic Plan for 2012-2032 and is currently soliciting public comments until Wednesday, May 30th. The enormous document (524 pages) is available for download at www.LASedimentManagement.com (the downloadable document entitled “Community Meeting Boards” is a conveniently concise summary of the larger plan). « Read the rest of this entry »
March 6, 2012 § 3 Comments
Here’s a concept I developed back in 2002, while a staffer at North East Trees, that might interest the stormwater wetland folks. A couple of posts ago, I reflected on how we really don’t need our stormwater treatment wetlands to receive artificial water supplementation – that we have regional seasonal wetland models to draw from. Here was an early effort of mine to demonstrate that point.
We’d been awarded a project to develop a multi-benefit project between the L.A. River and the 710 Freeway at Imperial Highway. Jurisdictionally, it was a complicated parcel of land – owned by South Gate, but also in the City of Lynwood, with Caltrans and oil company easements.
With the collaboration of ecologist Verna Jigour and engineer Mahmoud Vatankhaki, I proposed a seasonal wetland that would divert and infiltrate stormdrain flows from the adjacent neighborhoods. We recommended excavating a basin area, with a seasonal riparian corridor leading from a stormdrain inlet. A clay liner through the riparian corridor and wetland area would prolong the moisture transmitted via stormwater, while alluvial scrub would be suitable and durable in the infiltration area. An overflow would tie into an existing outfall should storms ever provide more than the site could manage. The project included overlooks from the bike path, and a short trail. Upland habitat defined the perimeter and intermediary slopes of the property – the perimeter being bermed up with the excavated soil taken from the wetland areas – to minimize the influence of the 710 freeway, while grasslands plantings would reside over the oil pipeline to maintain access. The plant palette worked with the appropriate species for the available hydrology of the site.
We were initially awarded $2 million in funding to move this into construction – until Caltrans said no. They needed the land for their up-coming widening project. After I left North East Trees, the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy was able to purchase private land nearby and has revived the project on that site with NET – as covered by Joe back in 2008. We’ll have to check in on the progress and report back – hopefully they are demonstrating what can be done with stormwater without drawing from distant aquifers.
February 22, 2012 § 18 Comments
Los Angeles proudly unveiled a new 9-acre park in South Los Angeles featuring a wetland that, I’m told, taps into the stormdrain network. And also receives tap water augmentation (although I don’t have the figures on how much). This is a $26 million achievement funded via the City’s Proposition O. The park helps to remediate not just stormwater but also a long-neglected imbalance in per capita park acreage for this South LA area compared with not only other areas of Los Angeles, but also compared to the city’s own planning standards. This constructed stormwater park is being celebrated in the media, here’s a few links: LA Times, KCET, A/N Blog. Everyone’s psyched to see a paved parking lot (bus yard) be turned into a natural paradise. « Read the rest of this entry »