Wise Ancient Oaks in Los Osos

May 10, 2012 § 7 Comments

Gnarled oak trees at Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve, near San Luis Obispo

On my vacation last week I was able to spend a lot of quiet time sketching at the Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve. Located just above San Luis Obispo near Morro Bay, Los Osos Oaks is a 90-acre grove of dwarfed 800-year-old coastal live oaks. From the State Parks brochure posted at the site “similar woodlands were once widespread along the coast, but most fell to clearing, grazing, firewood cutting, and development.”  « Read the rest of this entry »

The Arcadia Woodlands: In Memoriam

January 14, 2011 § 11 Comments

A view into a cathedral-like canopy that exists only in memory as of Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Indulge my sorrow for a moment by pondering this: as a complex and regenerative living system, the Arcadia Woodlands did not have a date of birth. Yes, technically the site contained trees that could be counted and carbon dated to determine age, but this approach fails to take into account the perpetuity of life and death that had existed there for thousands of years. The Woodlands were born long before the human concept of birth, before our concept of tree. This dynamic ensemble of life bore witness to countless iterations of diversity and evolution. The Woodlands were, at one time, undoubtedly inhabited by species we will never have the opportunity to name. They were shaped by wind, water, fire, plate tectonics and natural selection, forces far beyond the influence of the minuscule Homo sapiens, the seldom-wise-but-often-arrogant man. Yet, in less than one day, this ecology that knows no time was irreverently reduced to a memory by a construction crew swinging steel arms, and by officials wielding twisted words and hasty pens. « Read the rest of this entry »

Woodland Update: The Eve of Destruction

January 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

From left to right, David Czamanske (Sierra Club), Cam Stone (Arcadia), Caroline Brown (Sierra Madre) and Glen Owens (Monrovia) speak in front of Supervisor Michael Antonovich during the L.A. County Board of Supervisors Meeting

SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE THE ARCADIA WOODLANDS!

  • D-DAY (DEMOLITION DAY) IS TOMORROW!!!: Cam Stone reports that at 11:15PM tonight, he witnessed a large flat-bed truck passing by his house on Elkins Avenue (driving away from the gate that leads to the Woodlands), followed by what appeared to be a government vehicle (black Crown Victoria). This likely means that the heavy machinery will be on site for work in the morning. Time is near gone for the venerable oaks and sycamores of the Arcadia Woodlands.
  • Protest at Elkins Avenue gate: As a last-ditch effort, supporters will gather at the Elkins Aveune gate at 7:00AM sharp to protest the destruction of the Arcadia Woodlands. If you are available tomorrow and at all vested in this issue, this is most likely your last opportunity to act. Directions: From the 210 Freeway, head north on Santa Anita Avenue (for approx. 1.5 miles), make a right on Elkins Avenue, drive about 1/2 mile to the end of Elkins, the gate is at the end of the road.
  • City of Arcadia finally recognizes the project is flawed: As reported in the Arcadia Patch, the City of Arcadia sent a letter to Supervisor Michael Antonovich this morning explaining that they were now (finally) aware that the Santa Anita Reservoir Sediment Removal Project may actually result in more truck loads through the neighborhood rather than less (as was explained by the County during the EIR process… the idea of trucks driving through Arcadia neighborhoods on a continual basis was not well-received in the community and public opposition led to the County’s choice of the plan that would clear the Woodlands to prevent trucking through the neighborhood). The City of Arcadia expressed concern because by destroying the Woodlands, the County would gain 500,000 cubic yards of space for future sediment dumping (not all of which would come from Santa Anita Reservoir but from seven other debris basins outside the City of Arcadia as well, which means… trucks through Arcadia neighborhoods). This was not communicated by the County during the EIR process… while welcomed with open arms, the letter from the City of Arcadia may be too little too late.
  • Woodland supporters voice their concerns before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors (to no avail…): Despite being excluded from the agenda, approximately twenty supporters of the Arcadia Woodlands appeared at the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ weekly meeting today. Many spoke eloquently and passionately on the topic during the public comment portion of the meeting, but since the Board cannot deliberate on non-agenda items, no action was taken.
  • L.A. County Department of Public Works officials speak in front of the Board: Prior to public comments at the end of the meeting (where supporters of the Arcadia Woodlands spoke out), Mark Pestrella and Chris Stone of the L.A. County Department of Public Works sat before the Board and provided a brief summary of the DPW report on potential alternatives and public comments regarding the Santa Anita Reservoir Sediment Removal Project (the report was produced in response to the 30-day moratorium on construction to “explore project alternatives” called for by the Board of Supervisors). Not surprisingly, Pestrella and Stone defended their plan and stated that if the project was shelved, the entire City of Sierra Madre and a portion of Arcadia would loose drinking water and flood protection for nearly 56,000 residents would be lost. This is a subtle misrepresentation of the argument put forth by supporters of the Arcadia Woodlands who are, by no means, calling for the project to be canceled. Woodland supporters recognize the need for sediment removal and have proof (in the form of an independently commissioned engineering report) that this can happen without destroying the Woodlands. One of the most notable moments of the exchange occurred when Pestrella contended that the removal of the Woodlands and subsequent sediment placement was actually the most “sustainable” option (in lieu of trucking the sediment off-site) because, if there were no dam upstream and no channel, the sediment would be deposited in the Woodlands “naturally”. I am at a loss for words…

Woodland Update: Monday, Jan. 10, 2011

January 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Oaks and sycamores line the access road adjacent to the Arcadia Woodlands.

SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE THE ARCADIA WOODLANDS!

  • Arcadia Woodlands on Fox 11 News: Glen Owens (Monrovia Planning Commissioner) and Cam Stone (Arcadia resident and Woodlands Advocate) were interviewed by Hal Eisner of Fox 11 News a short time ago. The piece will air during the 10:00PM news hour tonight.
  • Protest scheduled for tomorrow: The following message is an excerpt from a press release composed by Christle Balvin of Hintz & Balvin Communications: Halt those bulldozers and switch off those chain saws” will be the message delivered by a wide-spread coalition of Arcadia neighbors and environmentalists massing in front of the Board of Supervisor’s at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 11th at 500 West Temple in Los Angeles. If you are interested, by all means join in!
  • L.A. County Board of Supervisors Meeting: Despite numerous phone calls, letters, and emails, the Woodlands did not make it onto the supplemental agenda for the Board meeting tomorrow. However, there will be a contingent of supporters on hand to voice their opposition to the destruction of the Woodlands. If you wish to have your voice heard, show up early and fill out a speaker card. The board cannot act on any item that is not on the agenda, but if enough voices are heard, perhaps Supervisor Antonovich will be moved to action.
  • Legal action on behalf of the Woodlands: The following is an excerpt from an email sent by Caroline Brown (spokeswoman for the California Oaks Foundation): “Glen [Owens] has hired an attorney to file a letter with the County.  It will request a short moratorium asking for a week or more to review the County’s report which only was available Friday around 2:00 p.m.  The Country Board of Supervisors meets on Tuesday morning.  If the Board does not grant the extension at its morning meeting, the attorney will file a restraining order to stop the bulldozers now scheduled for Wednesday morning.”
  • Arcadia Woodlands on YouTube: On Saturday (Jan. 8), Cam Stone and Kevin Breckner (Time River Productions) visited the woodlands and were spotted by security guards who promptly contacted the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. The confrontation was uneventful and led to no penalties, but the visit did produce what might be some of the last film footage of the Woodlands. The YouTube video “Santa Anita Wash Oak Grove Threatened” has over 200 hits as of this post.
  • Arcadia Woodlands on Facebook: Save the Arcadia Woodlands group HERE.
  • Petition Update: The online petition to save the Arcadia Woodlands has over 1,300 signatures as of this post!

News and Events – 8 January 2011

January 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

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

RECENT NEWS:

> 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 Ted.com video again. (Thanks to TrueLoveHealth for sharing the CVC link!)

UPCOMING EVENTS

> 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.

Woodland Demolition to Begin on 1/12/11

January 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

 

The decision is yours...

In a valiant and rapid display of literary unity, Creek Freak co-founder Jessica Hall organized Blogger Solidarity Day today in response to the pending destruction of the Arcadia Woodlands next Wednesday, January 12th. In an effort to spread the word about the cause far and wide, the online community here in L.A. took action (see list of participants at bottom). Following are a few of our thoughts (a big thanks to Jessica for her contributions here!) on a cause worthy of a fight right in our own backyard… « Read the rest of this entry »

The Arcadia Oaks: tunnel vision and the dirt pile

January 7, 2011 § 6 Comments

Cue Pink Floyd: We don't need no tunnel vision. Photo: Joshua Link, Ecotone Studios.

Ever been on an Ancient Tree Hunt?  Seen the decorative skirts placed around trees by Shinto worshipers? Tie a yellow ribbon “round the ole oak tree” or gone to a Shakespeare production in the center of an oak woodland? Ever play “Robin Hood” in an oak woodland? Any woodland? Ever play?

You know where I’m heading with this.

LA-area place names like Encino, Los Robles (both Spanish for oak), Sherman Oaks, Fair Oaks, etc hint to us of woodlands past. An oak reputed to be 400-years old on Caltech’s campus demonstrates that their presence was no fluke. Oak woodlands belonged to Southern California.

How many do you know of today?

Today the moratorium to level a century-old oak woodland in Arcadia ends. With security fencing lining the perimeter of the site, it is difficult to imagine that the County has arrived at a different outcome after their moratorium to re-think the approach.

And while I’m not sure what that means to them, it speaks volumes to me. Mitigation may replant oaks, but the interplay and evolution of organisms from microbes to mammals takes time to repair – and will occur uniquely in different locations. Supervisor Antonovich will be lucky if his great-great-grandchildren are able to find equivalency in the experience of this mitigation project as adults.

Given the quality of environmental values on display here, his great-great-grandchildren may very well be fortunate to know any kind of nature in Southern California at all.

But they will have many a dirt pile to look at. Those too will likely be fenced off.

Will the Supervisor’s ghost come down to them, saying, “sorry, but I had to do it so the trucks wouldn’t rumble past the people in their houses.”

Make me wrong, Supervisor. Make me eat my words. Please. I’d love that.

—-

Today bloggers are uniting to express their opposition to this proposed conversion of an oak woodland to a silt pile. Here’s a link to other blogs participating (this list will be updated throughout the day). Many of them have also been covering the issue for a while, with excellent updates and open letters (linked at Creekfreak’s earlier post by Josh Link).

And thanks to LA Observed for linking to Josh’s Arcadia Woodlands Update post and to the Arcadia Patch and Sierra Madre Patch for recognizing our blogger effort – and doing a splendid job reporting on the issue. I also want to give a nod to the Sierra Madre Tattler who I’m told has been behind the ball on this one all the way through.

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