May 8, 2012 § 12 Comments
Upon crossing the border threshold on foot at Los Algodones, we were met by the smiling faces of Osvel, Juliana and Isobet, the dedicated staff of Pronatura Noroeste. Our guides would prove to be among the most generous, hospitable people we have encountered in our travels. While absorbing the unfolding story of a lost river waiting to be found once again, we were simultaneously pulled headfirst into the ramifications of what we heard. Revelatory moments are scarce in an age of excessive information and we took care in absorbing a dose of pure, unadulterated perspective. At the end of the day, every blade of turf, every kidney-shaped swimming pool, every rinsed-off sidewalk, every broken sprinkler head, every drop of discarded greywater would forever hold new significance… « Read the rest of this entry »
March 30, 2012 § 14 Comments
Standing there, on the banks near a defunct stream gage, the dissonance between the earthtones of the desert, the hard greys and greens of asphalt and concrete and cars and lawn and monocultured lettuce fields, of industrial development’s footprint on the land and on this withered anemic river, whose water seemed almost still, made me a little dizzy.
But, unbeknownst to me, I was fighting a bacterial blood infection (and then some), so if my impressions seem fevered and lurid, well, it may have just been me – or Proteus OX-19.
But back to the river, and the Quartermaster’s Depot.
This, along with an old jail, are two of the oldest buildings in Yuma, on high ground, looking over the Colorado River. The Quartermaster’s is where mules were kept, hauling goods out of the steamers coming up from the Sea of Cortez (aka Gulf of California).
Is the visual of a steamship coming up this channel playing tricks with your mind? « Read the rest of this entry »
March 27, 2012 § 5 Comments
Kudos to Jessica on yesterday’s post about reaching détente between golf courses and healthy creeks. Her examples are instructive, but there’s at least one more somewhat interesting local example – on the Santa Ana River in Orange County. I alluded to it near the end of this earlier Santiago Creek post; the River View Golf Course contains Santiago Creek’s confluence with the Santa Ana River. It’s located near the intersection of the 5, 22, and 57 Freeways, not far from Anaheim Stadium (map below.) « Read the rest of this entry »
March 26, 2012 § 6 Comments
It seems as though there’s almost always a creek on golf courses in Los Angeles – be it natural, concrete or underground. And having proposed daylighting and restoration projects at a number of our local golf courses, I was happy to see this article, A Stream Runs Through It, published in the Golf Course Industry online magazine, supporting the idea. I have found that golf courses and streams can coexist, but too often golf courses alter the stream, pushing it over the edge of the property, constraining it in ways that destabilize it, removing habitat, etc. The management problems are often quite predictable. The opportunity exists to design a golf course with an understanding of stream habitat and function, leading to a richer golf experience, fewer maintenance issues, and habitat for that remaining 5-10% of LA’s waterways. Streams can separate greens, but when they traverse greens, they can become part of the play in interesting ways.
A couple of golf course/restoration locations I’ve referred to in Creek Freak posts include Devil’s Dip (I promise a post on just the golf course and restoration potential there in the near future but here’s a slide from Creek Freak’s recommendations to Mark Ridley-Thomas about it.) and South Pasadena Golf Course.
March 16, 2012 § 4 Comments
The Lower Colorado River’s been getting some good attention in the media lately(1, 2). And Creek Freak Josh Link and I have also recently been exploring the river and its issues, and look forward to presenting a series of posts on the topic.
It all started for me with the vaquita porpoise.
In 2005 I was a watershed coordinator tasked with addressing issues of water conservation in the Ballona Creek watershed. As odd as that may sound to people expecting a watershed coordinator to focus, on, say, the watershed itself, that’s how the grant worked. Chalk it up to Bay-Delta politics. That mandate, however, did me an eye-opening favor. For as much as I understood that most of our water was imported, I’d never bothered to consider how those far-away places were impacted by our big straws. A little self-education via Google’s search engine opened up a world of dessicated wildlands, endangered species, and amazement at how completely we lack perspective when we talk about water “demand”(1, 2). « Read the rest of this entry »
February 29, 2012 § 1 Comment
Cadiz, Inc today announced that it has optioned use of a derelict gas line to ship northern Californian water to the Mojave Desert for long-term storage by….
February 22, 2012 § 21 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 »
January 29, 2012 § 2 Comments
I recently spotted a couple of projects that L.A. Creek Freak has reported on that are now making on-the-ground progress. In Lincoln Heights (photo above) the Albion Dairy site industrial buildings and parking lot are well on their way to being completely demolished. Information on that planned L.A. River park here. In Santa Monica (photo below) the Ocean Park Boulevard green street project is under construction. Information on that complete street project (including its green bike lanes) here.
December 1, 2011 § 1 Comment
Speaking of the lower Colorado River, check out this wonderful video giving some historical context, issues and hope:
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…
October 6, 2011 § 4 Comments
We get so excited about our steps to mitigate (at beaucoup bucks) the environmental harm caused by the historical destruction of our waterways, that we often lose sight of our remaining natural waterways, that are impaired and under siege by ongoing efforts to build on floodplains, straighten, channelize, pond, dam and otherwise alter. I wonder sometimes if this is because we are more excited by the human handprint on the landscape than we are awed by the natural processes that are greater than us. Or is turning away of our gaze a kind of fist-shake at nature for being continually humbled?
The Santa Clara River, last natural big river in our region, the one that should be our point of reference for restoring the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, that can really help us to postulate our way out of the sediment dilemma of debris dams and spoiled woodlands to floodplains and sediment transport, will bear new markings of that human handprint.
For new development will soon mark the floodplain of the Santa Clara River at the “Landmark Village.”
It won’t just be the river and its habitat that loses. That river is at risk, and needs a larger community of support to protect it, but don’t kid yourself – the little handprint of Landmark Village can be easily swiped away in a large enough storm, poised as it is on the inside bend of a river that will be constricted by development. There may someday be a landmark that says, Here Once Laid the Landmark Village. A companion sign to the St. Francis Dam disaster sign much further upstream. One more ruin in a heritage of hubris.
County Supervisors Knabe, Molina and Antonovich approved the first phase of the Newhall Ranch project. Ridley-Thomas and Yaroslavsky were absent for this important vote.
In the news: Landmark Village gets green light – Daily News