Natural Habitat or Grass? South Pasadena Council to Decide

April 1, 2011 § 7 Comments

Photo: Barbara Eisenstein.

And today’s ticking time bomb for the remnant wildness of LA is in South Pasadena, along the Arroyo Seco. South Pasadena is considering taking over some undeveloped land between the Arroyo Seco Golf Course and the Arroyo Seco Nature Park. This undeveloped land has lovely habitat – which you can view in some detail at Barbara Eisenstein’s Wild Suburbia blog.  « 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!

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 »

Arcadia Woodlands Update

January 5, 2011 § 22 Comments

The heart of the Arcadia Woodlands

 

ALERT!!! CHAINSAWS TO BITE NEXT WEDNESDAY MORNING (1/12/11)

According to trustworthy sources, the Department of Public Works plans on continuing with the project as is and states that it completed all procedural work correctly, despite an otherworldly lack of communication! Work will resume (and chainsaws will bite) next Wednesday, January 12th unless extraordinary action is taken by the Board of Supervisors. It’s time to flood the lines of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich! Please call (213) 974-5555 to request that this item be added to the Board of Supervisors Agenda for this Tuesday (1/11/11). Today is the last day supplemental items can be added!

Click HERE for what might be the last film footage of the Arcadia Woodlands.

SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE THE ARCADIA WOODLANDS!

The 30-day moratorium on construction proposed by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich (5th District) and approved by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on December 7th expires at midnight on January 7th (this Friday). In theory, if no further action is taken by the Board of Supervisors to halt construction, there is nothing stopping the L.A. County Department of Public Works from authorizing the demolition (which could technically begin this Friday!) of a significant portion of the Arcadia Woodlands to make way for 250,000 cubic yards of sediment from nearby Santa Anita Reservoir. It seems to be an appropriate time to provide a somewhat detailed summary of the continued plight to save the Woodlands in what may prove to be the final days of this shining example of our natural heritage. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Arcadia Woodland (and its possible future)

December 14, 2010 § 13 Comments

Arcadia Woodland Location Map (aerial image obtained from Google Earth)

Escorted by Cam Stone, a long-time resident of the Arcadia foothills, two Sierra Club members and I passed through a series of locked gates en route to an ageless, enduring place that in recent days has become perilously ephemeral. Inspired by Jessica’s previous post on plans to raze the 11-acre old-growth oak woodland, I felt immediately compelled to see it, to hear it, to feel it beneath my feet. The Woodland was unknown to me prior to reading the post but minutes later I found myself making phone calls to writers and local residents already involved in the story, eagerly trying to find a way to go. There are so few remnant places like this in the area and I was awestruck to find out that the County was actually planning on wiping the Woodland off the map to make way for a stockpile of sediment. « Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking up for Hetch Hetchy Valley

December 2, 2010 § 3 Comments

What do you tell a major, environmentally and socially progressive metropolitan area that drowns Yosemite’s twin valley for its water and electricity?

NBC interview with Restore Hetch Hetchy Board Chair Mark Cederborg and Executive Director Mike Marshall.

Restore Hetch Hetchy!

That’s right, San Francisco gets its water from the Hetch-Hetchy Valley, part of the Yosemite Park System. Legislation was passed that enabled a dam to be built on National Park land early in the 1900s. But San Francisco can manage its water supply without this dam. In the same way that most Angelenos don’t know where their water comes from, or the impact it has on those places, most San Franciscans don’t know their water comes from Hetchy Hetchy either. They don’t know that John Muir’s heart broke when he lost the political battle over the valley, or that today Senator Feinstein could be a game changer for its fate…but isn’t interested. And I’m guessing that most folks in the Bay Area don’t know that when you look at the residential water use outside of San Francisco County (with an admirable per capita consumption rate of 68 gallons per person/day), you find veritable water hogs on a par with or even exceeding Los Angeles, viz. San Bruno: 95.4 gpp/d; Stanford University: 107 gpp/d; Redwood City: 130.5 gpp/d; Palo Alto: 203.8 gpp/d; Menlo Park: 338.9 gpp/d! (Follow this Sierra Club link to page 5 for a list.)

Advocates from Restore Hetch Hetchy came down to LA and brought a film festival together at AFI two weeks ago. They noted that Los Angeles responded to statewide public pressure (and litigation) and pulled together to save Mono Lake, and that we’ve successfully held steady our total water consumption rates despite population growth. Thanks for the nod, Bay Area peeps! They are hoping that Angelenos will take an interest and step up public opinion to remove the dam at Hetch Hetchy – and after being ribbed over the years about how LA is “stealing all the water” how many times? I’m sure we’re willing to oblige for a good cause.

Tales of Tujunga

November 18, 2008 § 4 Comments

I know, most of my posts are tales of our waters, but it is something special to be able to sit down with an old-timer whose childhood included explorations and adventures in the days before concrete.  I met Don Mullally a month or so ago, at one of the public meetings for stream protection.  He was a fierce advocate for protecting our remaining waterways, and had extensive knowledge of the streams and trails in the Santa Susana Mountains.  I told him I wanted to interview him about the LA River, and he went above and beyond, writing his memories down for me.  I will present them, with additional notes from our conversation, over several posts.  Don was born in 1929, and has lived his life in the LA area.  His recollections on birds of the LA basin will also be published serially in the San Fernando Valley Audubon newsletter, Phainopepla.

Recollections of Don Mullaly:  North Hollywood and Tujunga Wash

Path of Don's childhood recollections on Tujunga Wash.  Compare his description with what's here today!

GoogleEarth image of path taken by Don and pals up the Tujunga Wash. Compare his description with what's here today.

From 1943 to 1945, Don and his boyhood friends would take streetcars from West Hollywood over the Cahuenga Pass to North Hollywood Park, near Magnolia and the I-170 today. From there, they would hike up Tujunga Wash to approximately where a May Company (now Macy’s, he believes) was later built.

“The Tujunga Wash…ran across the San Fernando Valley to the western side of the Park. It probably received storm water runoff from Pacoima Creek, Little Tujunga Creek, and Big Tujunga stream. The Wash was approximately 100 yards wide and when dry resembled a desert with very few trees and patches of low shrubs; buckwheat, I believe.

Our goal was to reach the Wash. Once there, we walked upstream or north searching for whatever animals lived in it. The Wash was flanked by wide open spaces having very few and widely separated houses. Observed in the Wash were rabbits, quail, mourning doves, small birds, and lizards. Also one huge green headed bullfrog washed down from some distant pond…

Within a mile or two an abandoned gravel pit was soon discovered on the eastern side of the wash. The pit contained a lake occupied by ducks and mud hens (coots). On one occasion a group of the mud hens was noticed to be foraging beyond the shoreline. Having read that these birds sometimes froze in place when surprised, I rushed down a slope onto the birds. One became immobile, was captured, and taken home. It proved to be of little interest and was released.

On two visits I brought my trusty Daisy BB Air Rifle. A couple of roosting quail and a dove were shot dead, taken home, and eaten for dinner…

On one visit I found Tujunga Wash in flood stage. The river was large and fast moving with trains at least three foot high standing waves in the current. Across the river a house was balanced on a bank: half over the water, and half on land. (Don later stated that he learned to stay out of the washes during rainstorms from this experience.)

On rainy days sea gulls flew overhead the length of the river. I once tried to shoot some down with bow and arrow. Strings were tied to te back ends of the arrows. No luck. As a youth I was a predatory Daniel Boone!”

Hidden Creek Estates

October 16, 2008 § Leave a comment

 

2003 photo of stream in Brown's Canyon watershed

2003 photo of stream in Brown's Cyn watershed.

At last night’s Stream Protection meeting, an elderly gentleman in the audience mentioned a proposed development, Hidden Creek Estates, in Mormon Canyon, which would be annexed by the City to make the development possible. Mormon Canyon drains into Brown’s Canyon, a beautiful perennial stream that is a tributary to the LA River (and apparently source of the LAR Navigable Waters Jurisdication Determination kerfuffle – well the owner of Brown’s Canyon, that is).  Both were hit by the recent Sesnon fire.  

2003 view of the area

2003 view of the area

Hidden Creek Estates proposes 188 homes in a wildlands area, apparently re-grading hillsides of the Santa Susana Mountains to keep the development on higher ground.  It would be nice to see developers maintain the natural character of our mountains and canyons, something called landform grading – here it appears the slopes will be levelled and stabilized, on perfectly even slopes.  You know, the kind you see around landfills and subdivisions everywhere now.  

landfill grading aesthetics at neighboring Porter Ranch

Background: landfill grading aesthetics at neighboring Porter Ranch

But this is a creek blog: fortunately it appears that the streams will not be built over, although one small area of the proposed development map appears to grade over one of the streams, where perhaps a bridge could be used.  Altering the hillslopes does change the sediment supply that maintains the stream’s channel and habitat, however.  The draft EIR proposes Best Management Practices to mitigate runoff, which is great, but we don’t want to cut off sediment altogether either.  But what of the wildlife?  What we are left with is a conversation of how much more of our biodiversity we can cut into.  Remember in Math class, there was this idea that you could infinitely divide something in half, and never reach zero? We are now reaching into the terrain of several 00’s after the decimal.  I sometimes wonder how much land wildlife would allocate to us, if they were the planners and developers and we were at their mercy.  Would they say, as we do, “well, as long as we preserve a representative population, it’s ok to reduce their habitat. I mean, how many of them do we need to maintain biodiversity anyway?”

Click to enlarge. Original image converted to gif (hence black background).

Grousing about Hidden Creek aside, at least it doesn’t take the top off a mountain and dump it in canyons, like we see here in this cut and fill diagram for Mountain Gate, in the Santa Monica Mountains above Bundy Canyon in Brentwood.  You can view the actual draft and final EIRs here, click on Environmental, Final EIR and scroll to Mountain Gate.  While you are at it, scroll on over to the Canyon Hills Final EIR in the Verdugo Hills, which, while preserving one stream, will result in the loss of some of its tributaries, which are noted for their good representation of increasingly rare Southern California riparian (streamside) habitats.  Which brings us back to Math class.  How many times can we divide 1/2?

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