News and Events – 24 March 2010

March 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Image of planned new Riverside Drive Bridge and Roundabout - From L.A. City Flier


>TOMORROW! The city of Los Angeles hosts a community meeting on its plans for the Riverside Drive Bridge. The meeting is at 6pm on Thursday, March 25th 2010 at the Atrium Room of the L.A. River Center at 570 West Avenue 26 in Cypress Park. City flier here.
The city plans to replace the L-shaped Riverside-Figueroa Bridge with a new wider straighter faster deadlier bridge, with construction planned to begin later this year. The L.A. River bike path is planned to extend along the upstream edge of the bridge across the river from Frogtown to Cypress Park. The project (image above) includes a roundabout (traffic circle) at the intersection of Riverside Drive, San Fernando Road, and North Figueroa Streets, where the state is working on its planned Confluence Park. Confluence Park, partially under construction (next to the Home Depot parking lot) but stalled due to state budget issues, will celebrate the historic confluence of the L.A. River and the Arroyo Seco.  Learn more about the project, by attending tomorrow night’s meeting!

>TOMORROW!  The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History presents their Sustainable Salon: Sustaining Our Water at 7pm on  Thursday, March 25th 2010. It’s free and talkes place at the museum’s North American Mammal Hall. Featuring:  Miguel Luna (Urban Semillas), Renée Maas (Food and Water Watch), and Conner Everts (Southern California Watershed Alliance.) For information and to rsvp contact Kim Kessler at 213-763-3463 or kkessler {at} nhm {dot} org. 

>The Theodore Payne Foundation – California Native flora-philes:

  • California Wildflower Hotline  until May 31st 2010 – Find spectacular California wildflower sites – updated Thursdays. Use link or call (818)768-3533.
  • THIS SATURDAY! Spring discount plant sale & Open House Saturday, March 27th 2010, 8:30am-4:30pm at TPF Nursery in Sun Valley.
  • Annual Native Plant Garden Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 10th and 11th 2010, from 10am-4pm – including a free lecture:  In California, the Natives Are Friendly with Isabelle Greene on Saturday, April 10, 2010, at 6:30pm at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood.

>The Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, Friends of the L.A. River, and the Urban Land Institute host On Track: Rivers and Rails Symposium. It’s on Thursday, April 1st 2010 from 3pm-6pm at Metro in downtown L.A. More information here.

>The Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University hosts three free workshops on three Saturdays: March 27th, April 3rd and April 17th. See earlier post for details.

>Save L.A. River Open Space is holding a special meeting on Thursday, April 15th 2010 at 7pm at the Beverly Garland’s Holliday Inn at 4222 Vineland Ave in Studio City.  Featured will be State Senator Fran Pavley and Esther Feldman of Community Conservancy International presenting a vision for a 16-acre Los Angeles River Natural Park  at the former golf and tennis site.

>The L.A. River boating expedition documentary Rock the Boat will screen at Los Angeles Eco-Village on Saturday May 8th 2010. Basic info here, more details coming soon.


Orcutt's Yellow Pincushion - from Ken Bowles Wildflower and Bird Photos - click on image to link to biggified version

>A rare wildflower – Orcutt’s Yellow Pincushion – was discovered at a restoration site in the Ballona Wetlands. The Argonaut tells all!

>Long Beach is labeling its bikeways, and the L.A. River path there is now officially Long Beach Bikeway Route 7.

>Los Angeles’ elected officials and agency leaders have been in Washington D.C. pushing for funding for Los Angeles River revitalization. Los Angeles State Historic Park has the pics to prove it!

>Fishing in the very lush Los Angeles River off Tujunga Boulevard [perhaps Avenue] in 1945? The Museum of the San Fernando Valley has the pics to prove it!

Touring Native Plantings at Rio De Los Angeles State Park

March 9, 2010 § 4 Comments

Coreopsis flowers in bloom at Rio De Los Angeles State Park

I got a chance to tour Rio de Los Angeles State Park yesterday morning as part of a tour inspecting work North East Trees had recently completed. NET’s work was part of a Caltrans Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation (EEM) grant. The work was mostly planting of native trees and shrubs. As with my recent visit to La Culebra, due to the nice wet El Niño season, the vegetation at RDLASP is looking very green and lush. What follows is mostly a photo essay of what I saw.

The park's low-lying wetland area is a full-on pond after recent rains

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Updates: Gate and Garden

April 21, 2009 § Leave a comment

Fixing the Great Heron Gate

Fixing the Great Heron Gate

Today it’s up-to-the-minute updates on things that Creek Freak covered earlier:

As I was bicycling to speak at an Earth Day event, I passed a Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority crew re-assembling Brett Goldstone’s Great Heron Gate. As I had reported in an earlier post, the gate was damaged, apparently hit by a car. Thanks to the quick quality work of the MRCA, it’s all better now.

I also got a chance today to check in on my friend’s mom’s native rain garden that I wrote about earlier. Nearly all the plants are alive. The snapdragon didn’t make it. The heuchera is blooming wildly, the irises too, and the California Buckwheat is spreading nicely. There’s a wildflower that came up all over but hasn’t bloomed yet – I think it’s clarkia. At nearly three months out it’s looking good, but the test will be getting it through the hot summer without too much or too little water. I’ve been dropping by and watering once a month or so (in between Spring rains.) All these plants and seeds are from the Theodore Payne Foundation native California plant nursery.

Below is a photo gallery.

Alum root (Heuchera) in Bloom

Alum root (Heuchera) in Bloom

Buttercup (yellow flowers) and Alum Root (pink flowers)

Buttercup (yellow flowers) and Alum Root (pink flowers)

Juncus (the tall straight reeds)

Juncus (the tall straight reeds)

View of the Garden Bed (note that it's pretty shady)

View of the Garden Bed (note that it's pretty shady)

Going Native with Theodore Payne

March 28, 2009 § 3 Comments

Natives in Bloom on the Theodore Payne Garden Tour

Natives in Bloom on the Theodore Payne Garden Tour

I’ve mentioned the Theodore Payne Foundation (full name: Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants) and their native plant nursery here briefly before, but I want to elaborate a bit and alert the local creek freaks to some events that they’re hosting coming up next week.

The non-profit Theodore Payne is the premiere resource for California native plants. They have an excellent nursery located in Sun Valley – not only can you purchase native plants and ask questions to experts, you can see a lot of examples of how the natives will look in the ground. You can also find Theodore Payne at the Sunday Hollywood Farmers’ market, too. They also host a wildflower hotline/website with up to the minute advice on where to find the best native wildflower blooms.

For my garden, I grow mostly edibles. Around the edges, though, but I do grow natives, including yarrow, California fuschia, sage, and a few others. All these are plants I got from Theodore Payne.

Why plant natives? Well, for one, we’re in a drought (or perhaps a climate catastrophe) so it’s important that we conserve water. Natives are adapted to the rainwater that we receive. They’re also part of connecting with the land where we live. Just as we creek freaks try to understand the creeks that used to flow through our neighborhoods, we also want to connect with the plants that originally grew in and along them.  Many natives provide habitat for local birds and butterflies.

Thinking about planting a native garden? Or just interested in learning more about natives? Well, you’re in luck. This week there are two events:

Theodore Payne Foundation’s Sixth Annual Garden Tour takes place this Saturday and Sunday, April 4th and 5th, from 10am to 4pm in 45 homes – from Altadena to Topanga, and in a neighborhood near you. You probably can’t see them all, but if you go to backyards near you, you can get a sense for what might grow well in your garden. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or by calling (818) 768-1802.

California Native Plants for the Garden, Cachuma Press 2006

California Native Plants for the Garden, Cachuma Press 2006

In conjunction with the tour, there’s also a free lecture by Carol Bornstein entitled “Indulging Our Senses in the Native Garden” on Saturday, April 4th from 6:30pm – 8:30pm at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood 90027 (easy access from the Metro Red Line Sunset/Vermont Station.) Bornstein is the co-author of California Native Plants for the Garden.

Building a Healthier San Gabriel River Watershed Day 2

September 19, 2008 § 3 Comments

San Gabriel River Watershed (from LA&SGR Watershed Council website - click for larger image)

San Gabriel River Watershed (from LA&SGR Watershed Council website - click for larger image)

 If it’s Wednesday and I’m in El Monte, this must be the second day of the Watershed Council‘s Building a Healthy San Gabriel River Watershed conference.  I neglected to mention earlier that day one concluded with a very delicious dinner at the recently expanded Rio Vista Park.  I’ll blog about that park very soon.

Day two had plenty of informative speakers – a bit more focused, less broad than day one.  Irma Munoz, of Mujeres de la Tierra, spoke on doing real community engagement, not just minority outreach.  Irma tells it like it is – especially how critical it is that we listen to and respect our stakeholders.  Munoz got quite a few questions from agency staff who (it seemed to me) wanted her to reveal the secret trick to making connections with the community.  There’s no shortcut for real respect and transparency and knocking on doors.  Travis Longcore, of the USC Center for Sustainable Cities, spoke about the false dichotomy between cities and nature (and local impacts on the Loggerhead Shrike also called the Butcher Bird).  Ken Schwarz, an environmental restoration engineer for Horizon Water & Environment, discussed changing approaches to flood control channels urban streams, including hopeful examples from Napa, Sonoma, and Ballona Creek.  He brought up an interesting aspect that I think is underappreciated locally – integrated channel maintenance(!) and restoration. With all our integrated plans, there hasn’t been much focus on how go about maintaining existing channels and rights-of-way to better restore ecological functions… hmmm… there’s a whole blog entry that we could do with that one… soon.  Ellen Mackey, the Watershed Council‘s native plant guru  Senior Ecologist, spoke about the importance of emphasizing locally native plants.  She’s been instumental in coming up with the very-native LA River Master Plan landscaping guidelines, mapping vegetation on the San Gabriel River, and is also looking at that pesky maintenance issue – by coming up with a site-specific park maintenance manual for park staff and the community.  I will try to get my hands on this and share it soon on this blog.

Climate change was the subject of the second panel, with Rich Varenchik of the California Air Resources Board giving a broad overview of the state’s plan to implement AB32.  It mostly boils down to a much needed massive energy-efficiency plan (with some some smart growth and low impact development thrown in.)  For me, the most interesting speaker of the whole day was Stefan Lorenzato of the state Department of Water Resources.  Lorenzato spoke about how climate change is shifting how we look at watershed management.  In the unpredicability of future climates, he stressed that we should move away from monitoring for static goals, and look at “gradients.”  Our strategy should create rich resilient mosaics, not monocultures.  He connected this with a look at unpublished research that he’s involved in that shows the roughness of various stream channels.  It turns out that, at some flow volumes/speeds, some vegetation (ie: willows) turns out to be less rough (which is to say, allows more stream flow volume) than bare channels.  This means that some vegetation in a channel doesn’t necessarily reduce that channel’s capacity.  I will try to track this study down and blog on it, too (gotta keep a list of the promises I make here.)

The day ended with a media panel: Louis Sahagun of the Los Angeles Times, and Steve Scauzillo of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.  They each spoke movingly of growing up along the then “lush jungle setting” of the San Gabriel River and how their journalism has brought environmental issues to light.  The creek freak bloggers could learn a thing or two from these veteran journalists… especially about getting out a good “summary lead.”  I have to work on that.

Changing Historical Alignments of the San Gabriel River

Lastly, here’s an image from Eric Stein’s presentation on day one of the conference.  I blogged on this before, but didn’t have the visuals to show you.  The maps on the left show how the course of the San Gabriel River has changed over time.  Click on the image to download the full 17MB SCCWRP report.

Well… there’s was quite a bit more that went on at the conference… but that’s my summary of the formal high points.  The best informal aspects of conferences being those times where I get to catch up with many of the other creek freaks from throughout the southland.  I’m grateful to and looking forward to more informative events from the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council.

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