Going bonkers over the brea in Ballona

December 4, 2011 § 18 Comments

$2 million worth of funny. Click to enlarge. Map: Jessica Hall. Base Image, GoogleEarth.

Oh boy.  It’s amusement vs. aggravation here at LA Creek Freak, as I struggle to find adequate words to express how I feel about this much-forwarded LA Times piece about an oily sheen on Ballona Creek. « 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.


North Atwater Park Creek Construction Nearly Complete

November 15, 2011 § 15 Comments

View, over construction fences, from North Atwater Park. Seating and viewing areas in the foreground. Central green creek area has been hydroseeded. In the distance is the new mostly-permeable-surface parking lot.

I got a chance to look over the fences at the under-construction natural creek park at North Atwater Park. Officially the project is called North Atwater Park Expansion and Creek Restoration. It’s looking like it’s 99%+ complete… though it will be good for the native vegetation to grow and get itself more established during the cool wet season ahead.  « Read the rest of this entry »

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 OpenCongress.org

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.

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