Reflection on a seasonal treatment wetland concept for South Gate at the LA River

March 6, 2012 § 3 Comments

Concept plan. Click to enlarge.

Here’s a concept I developed back in 2002, while a staffer at North East Trees, that might interest the stormwater wetland folks.  A couple of posts ago, I reflected on how we really don’t need our stormwater treatment wetlands to receive artificial water supplementation – that we have regional seasonal wetland models to draw from.  Here was an early effort of mine to demonstrate that point.

We’d been awarded a project to develop a multi-benefit project between the L.A. River and the 710 Freeway at Imperial Highway.  Jurisdictionally, it was a complicated parcel of land – owned by South Gate, but also in the City of Lynwood, with Caltrans and oil company easements.

With the collaboration of ecologist Verna Jigour and engineer Mahmoud Vatankhaki, I proposed a seasonal wetland that would divert and infiltrate stormdrain flows from the adjacent neighborhoods.  We recommended excavating a basin area, with a seasonal riparian corridor leading from a stormdrain inlet.  A clay liner through the riparian corridor and wetland area would prolong the moisture transmitted via stormwater, while alluvial scrub would be suitable and durable in the infiltration area.  An overflow would tie into an existing outfall should storms ever provide more than the site could manage.  The project included overlooks from the bike path, and a short trail.  Upland habitat defined the perimeter and intermediary slopes of the property – the perimeter being bermed up with the excavated soil taken from the wetland areas – to minimize the influence of the 710 freeway, while grasslands plantings would reside over the oil pipeline to maintain access. The plant palette worked with the appropriate species for the available hydrology of the site.

We were initially awarded $2 million in funding to move this into construction – until Caltrans said no.  They needed the land for their up-coming widening project.  After I left North East Trees, the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy was able to purchase private land nearby and has revived the project on that site with NET – as covered by Joe back in 2008.  We’ll have to check in on the progress and report back – hopefully they are demonstrating what can be done with stormwater without drawing from distant aquifers.

Announcing Scott Wilson’s Passing

November 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Scott Wilson 1922-2011

Your creek freak writers are planning some more personal articles about Scott Wilson soon, but I wanted to post a few links with the news that Scott Wilson has passed away. Wilson, founder of North East Trees, was born in 1922 and died on November 7th 2011.

> North East Trees blog
> L.A. Times obituary
> Chance of Rain (read Lewis Macadams’ comment)

Folks whose lives Scott touched are invited to celebrate his life and legacy on Sunday, November 27, 2011, from 2pm-5pm, with a program starting at 3pm. The event will be at the Women’s Twentieth Century Club of Eagle Rock, 5105 Hermosa Avenue, Los Angeles 90041.

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

« Read the rest of this entry »

Events in Ballona-land

November 20, 2009 § 2 Comments

Tree planters, grab your shovels and head out to Ballona Creek and Cochran Avenue tomorrow morning – Saturday – to help out with what promises to be a significant project on Ballona Creek in Mid-City Los Angeles.  North East Trees, with the support of Mid City folks, Council District 10, and the involvement of the Ballona Creek Renaissance, has been working to mitigate stormwater runoff entering this oft-neglected reach of the stream from the neighborhood using natural solutions – what is sometimes called biotreatment.  Tomorrow’s tree planting is a step in implementing the plans and will also help beautify the area.

[UPDATE] Thank you Marcia Hanscom for the reminder in the Comments section that Ballona Institute is also in the midst of restoration plantings on the Grand Canal Lagoon – a partially disconnected part of the Ballona Wetlands system that we all recognize as part of the Venice canals today.  Ballona Institute is bringing back the richness of diversity of wetlands plants that has been lost over years of filling & draining of the wetlands.  Every Saturday & Sunday (except the 6th and the weekend after Christmas) they will be out working from 9-noon, and 1:30-4:30pm.  Contact outreach@ballonainstitute or call (310) 578-8888. For more details, check out the comment section.

On December 4th, the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA) will be dedicating several new landscaped entries to the Ballona Creek bikepath.  The MRCA has been a greenway-building powerhouse in our region, and I look forward to seeing their newest projects.  The dedication ceremony will be at 10am at Inglewood Avenue and Ballona Creek.  Tree planting and bike tour to immediately follow.

In other news the Ballona Watershed, Ballona Creek Renaissance and the Friends of Ballona Wetlands are partnering with folks at the Mar Vista Gardens housing project and family center to educate youth about the watershed and also install biotreatment that is also habitat along the banks of Ballona Creek in the Mar Vista area.  Hopefully I’ll remember to post the events so you can join in.

Meanwhile, for those of you who prefer virtual involvement to physical labor, a team of researchers (from Southern California Coastal Waters Research Project, CSUN, USC, San Francisco Estuary Institute and me) is working on a Ballona Historical Ecology project – and is keeping a blog about our work.  While it is partly for communicating the mundane (who’s going to what library when) we will also be posting juicy findings and tidbits – and welcome input from members of the public who have recollections of floods, fish, springs, wetlands, duck hunting, sycamores, willows, streams, old watering or swimming holes etc that existed in the Ballona Creek watershed (basically the area draining from downtown LA west to Marina del Rey, between the Santa Monica Mountains/Hollywood Hills to Inglewood).  You are always welcome to post those stories here on LA Creekfreak, but this Ballona Historical Ecology blog will take your comments direct to the research team.  Some of the team (with UCLA) area also studying the water flows in the watershed, in part to determine how much of the water in our stormdrains is actually “native” water from springs, seeps or groundwater – as opposed to runoff from yards or the Colorado River.

Many of the above-mentioned projects and activities were fostered through brainstorming at the Ballona Creek Watershed Task Force and among staff at the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission while I was working there.  It’s nice to see things happening.

News and Events – 16 April 2009

April 16, 2009 § 1 Comment


South East Trees' Latest!

South East Trees' Latest Masterpiece!

> The new Cudahy River Park opens along the southeast stretch of the Los Angeles River!  What will North East Trees think of next?

> L.A. Streetsblog looks at federal stimulus money going to California bicycle projects – looks promising that funds will go to the lower Arroyo Seco Bikeway.

> Friday-tomorrow noon is your deadline for entering L.A. Creek Freak’s first-ever contest.  Win the Audubon Center at Debs Park’s guide to Animals of the Los Angeles River by merely commenting on our blog.  Right now the odds are better than 1 in 10.  No purchase required.  Void where prohibited.  Your results may vary.

>Friends of the Los Angeles River’s 2008 fish study is now on-line!  Creek Freak reviewed it here – one of our most perennially popular posts! Now let me tell about that one that got away…


>Tomorrow, Friday April 17th at 2:30, the City of LA hosts a talk  on the revitalization of Seoul’s  Cheong Gye Cheong river.

>This Sunday afternoon, April 19th, Long Beach’s Wrigley Area Neighborhood Alliance hosts tours of the Dominguez Gap – a restored wetland park along the lower Los Angeles River.    Creek Freak visited the site recently and the wildflowers are blooming beautifully!

>Also this Sunday, April 19th at 3:30pm, Friends of the LA River hosts a walk along the scenic Glendale Narrows stretch of the L.A. River.  Meet at Steelhead Park, on Oros Street in Frogtown.

>Support your local bloggers Joe Linton and Damien Newton as we teach you how to blog like we do – plus mucho other useful free stuff on the web at our Internet Skills Class on Tuesdays April 21st and 28th.  We teach it again May 4th and 11th.

Spring cleaning opportunities abound:
> This Saturday April 18th at Taylor Yard with North East Trees.  Yo! it’s Earth Day!
> Next Saturday April 25th at Taylor Yard with North East Trees and local Obama folk.
>Saturday May 9th at Taylor Yard and many many other sites with Friends of the L.A. River.

>On April 25th and 26th, Urban Photo Adventures leads their Los Angeles River photography tour – see and capture some of the grittiest industrial sites along the mighty Los Angeles.

Bike the Emerald Necklace on the San Gabriel River and the Rio Hondo with the city of El Monte’s Tour of Two Rivers bike rally on Saturday May 16th.  Then bike the Los Angeles River on the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s River Ride on Sunday June 7th.

News and Upcoming Events – March 11 2009

March 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

This week’s leaks that pique creek freaks beaks! (eek!)


>Yesterday in Metblogs, Will Campbell reports that portions of the Ballona Creek Bike Path will be closed and closed some more.

>Yesterday the Eastsider Blog reported that the Los Angeles City Council passed Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes’ motion directing the city’s Planning Department, General Services Department and River Revitalization Corporation to do the groundwork for a Request for Proposals process for the re-use of the Lincoln Heights Jail. The LA City Historical-Cultural Landmark Lincoln Heights Jail is located on Avenue 19 adjacent to the Los Angeles River – a stone’s throw from its historic confluence with the Arroyo Seco. The initial art deco building was built in 1930 with a less remarkable addition tacked on in 1949. The jail has been closed for many years. Its ground floor has housed a few cultural institutions, including the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts, though it’s best known as a film location.

>On February 24th, Daily News reporter explores home damage attributed to construction on the Moorpark Street Bridge over the Tujunga Wash in Studio City. LAist reports that neighbors fear more of the same with rehabilitation of the nearby Fulton Avenue Bridge over the Los Angeles River.

>Speaking of the river at Fulton Avenue in Sherman Oaks, the Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River have their own new website which includes an active blog! See below for their Earth Day Clean-Up event.

>Speaking of home damages, On February 7th, the Long Beach Press Telegram reported the latest in a series of local floods damaging homes in West Long Beach (in the Dominguez Slough watershed.) See also the accompanying photo gallery and the follow-up article. Maybe some multi-benefit watershed management strategies could help break this cycle?

Check out recent LA Times blogs coverage of:
> Restoration at Machado Lake in Wilmington (more-or-less at the mouth on the Dominguez Slough Watershed)
> Opening of the new extension of Ralph Dills Park – located on the L.A. River in the city of Paramount
> Replacing of the 1932 Sixth Street Viaduct over the L.A. River. This unfortunate project proposes to put a contemporary 6-lane highway in place of one of our most historic and iconic bridges. The bridge, undermined by internal chemical issues, does need some work, but stay tuned to see if the city can do something that respects its scale and beauty. (Read the comments which include “Who came up with the bland design for the new bridge?”)

>Want to save energy, prevent greenhouse gas emissions and stem the tide of global warming? Worldchanging reports that conserving water is one of the most effective ways to reduce energy use. This is especially true in the city of Los Angeles where our pumping to deliver our water consumes about a quarter of all the energy we generate!


>This Saturday March 14th from 8am to 2pm, North East Trees hosts a day of service to remove invasive plants from the wetlands at Rio de Los Angeles State Park in Cypress Park.

>On Sunday March 15th, Friends of the L.A. River (FoLAR) lead their monthly river walk in Atwater Village. Meet at the end of Dover Street at 3:30pm.

>The L.A. City Planning Department hosts two public hearings about the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan – called the “CASP” (or maybe the CASSP?) The same meeting takes place on Monday March 16th at 3pm and 6pm at Goodwill Industries in Lincoln Heights.

>On Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm March 17th and 24th, L.A. Creek Freak‘s Joe Linton and L.A. Streetsblog‘s Damien Newton will teach our highly-informative internet skills class. Learn how to use easy, free internet applications to promote your non-profit and/or business. Start your own blog!

>Bicycle the Rio Hondo at the unfortunately-named-but-actually-really-fun 24th annual Tour de Sewer on Saturday March 21st.

March for Water on Saturday March 22nd!

March for Water on Saturday March 22nd!

>On Sunday March 22nd from 9am to 3pm, the March for Water will take place. Marchers will walk from Los Angeles State Historic Park to Rio De Los Angeles State Park to raise awareness of bring attention to the present water crisis taking place all over the world, our nation, the state and the city of Los Angeles. Conveners include Urban Semillas, Food and Water Watch, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, Green L.A. Coalition, and many more!

>On Thursday March 26th at 12noon at a Los Angeles Natural History Museum Research and Collections Seminar, L.A. Creak Freek’s Joe Linton will speak on “The Los Angeles River: Its Past, Present and Possible Future.” There’s no cost for the seminar, but if you’re not a member you’ll have to pay to get into the museum.

>On Saturday and Sunday April 17th and 18th from 9am to 12noon, the Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River invite the public to help clean up, mulch, and plant natives at the Richard Lillard Outdoor Classroom in Sherman Oaks.

>FoLAR’s annual La Gran Limpieza (the Great LA River Clean-Up) will take place on Saturday May 9th.

>The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition hosts their 9th Annual Los Angeles River Ride on Sunday June 7th.

Conservancy Acquires LA River / Rio Hondo Confluence Parcel

August 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

Alina Bokde at the South Gate Site

Alina Bokde at the South Gate Site

I recently toured the Lower Los Angeles River with Alina Bokde of the RMC (that’s short for the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy.) We were showing some lower river sites to a pair of professors from Stockholm who are bringing urban design students here next year. Alina had some good news for me: her conservancy recently acquired an large riverside parcel located in the city of South Gate!

The South Gate Riparian Restoration Project site is located immediately east of the confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Rio Hondo. It has long been considered problematic for development as automotive access is nearly impossible, due to the land being sandwiched between the 710 Freeway and the Los Angeles River. The RMC closed escrow on August 12th, paying $630,000 for the privately-owned 8-acre site (mostly from county “Prop A” park monies funds.) The city of South Gate is contributing another $1.5 million (also from Prop A) for design and construction of a multi-benefit natural park. North East Trees is just beginning design work; expected features include stormwater capture and treatment through vegetated bioswales. Also planned are benches, a walking trail and a rest stop for bicyclists on the adjacent South County LA River Bike Trail. The park is much-needed for these population-dense park-poor neighborhoods in southeast LA County.

The park will be operated and maintained by the RMC‘s new JPA (Joint Powers Authority) called the WCA (for Watershed Conservation Authority – a joint powers authority between the RMC and the LA County Flood Control District.) and the project isn’t expected to be complete and open for another couple years. There doesn’t seem to be any information available online right now, but see the WCA’s website for information soon.

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