Hydrodiversity

September 5, 2018 § 4 Comments

 

I can’t stop looking at these old maps of the Los Angeles basin, from the late 1880s. Cartographic representation of the way water flowed over, under, and into the landscape approaches the expressiveness of art.

These maps depict a spectrum of conditions between dry and wet that included marshes, seeps, streams, seasonal and perennial wetlands, freshwater sloughs, arroyos, wet meadows, alkali meadows, vernal pools… Each of these hydrological conditions would have supported plants and animals uniquely suited to the resulting ecosystem.

I think of how every place in the basin interacted with water in its own particular way.

And yet these maps are only a snapshot in time. The amount of surface water in the landscape might vary according to the season, and if it was a particularly dry or wet year. In a dry year, a seep might stop flowing. After a string of wet years, it might create a small pond. During a particularly large storm, a river might shift and find a new bed.

In our current urban fabric, much of the land’s hydrodiversity has been reduced to only three basic conditions: Dry (developed) land,  lakes (reservoirs or recreational use), or stream beds (linear channels fixed in place).

What kind of hydrodiversity might urban river and stream restorations seek to create?

For more about the complex mosaic of habitat types that once existed in our basin, please see this study of the San Gabriel River and this one of the Ballona watershed.

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§ 4 Responses to Hydrodiversity

  • rangerdon says:

    Many thanks for this, and all your posts. I’m working on a book that begins in Atwater Village and has to some extent an ecological focus. This gives an excellent ecological overview of the area.

  • David Gooler says:

    PLEASE don’t give up on this site! I love everything about it. I have been forced by my Wife, due to my decrepitude, to walk in the Pasadena Arroyo while she water walks at the Rosebowl Pools. I have chosen not to circle the Rosebowl, but instead head south and follow the stream . I am hoping that some day the Arroyo “Seco” will again be a center of Pasadena life. Keep up the fine work!

    On Wed, Sep 5, 2018 at 12:03 PM L.A. Creek Freak wrote:

    > Jane Tsong posted: “I can’t stop looking at these old maps of the Los > Angeles basin, from the late 1880s. Cartographic depiction of the way water > flowed over, under, and into the landscape approaches the expressiveness of > art. I think of how every place in the basin interact” >

  • LYNN EL says:

    I WAS A HOMEOWNER IN VENICE IN THE 90’S, JUST BEFORE PLAY(UGH) VISTA BECAME A REALITY AND I LOVED AND RESPECTED THE LAST REMAINING WETLANDS OF THAT SIZE IN L.A…

    (I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE POLITICAL REALITY BEHIND THAT BEING APPROVED)…

  • Barbara Crane says:

    Thank you, Jane, for your enlightening post and additional links. What terrific stuff that I can’t find anywhere else.

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