Processes of becoming: water and wastewater in some Northwest urban landscapes

October 2, 2011 § 5 Comments

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Last week I spent time in a city where rivers and streams are so much a fabric of the culture, they are a character in public life, possibly even approaching equals along with salmon, Microsoft, clearcut forest, and eagles… « Read the rest of this entry »

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Upcoming Event: Creekfreak talk at South Coast CNPS

October 29, 2010 § 5 Comments

Cross-section demonstrating naturalization strategy in soon-to-be-completed planning study.

Monday night I’m giving a talk at the South Coast California Native Plant Society. Come on down! The talk is “Hope for Southern California Streams” and my hope is to stuff flowers in your muskets and arm you with a sense of the possible, to fuel our collective political will on behalf of our waterways and remnant habitat patches – with some specific time to think out loud about South Bay wild things (and I’m so not referring to beach bunnies).

When: 7:30pm

Where: South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Boulevard, Palos Verdes, CA 90274

Opportunity knocks at Compton Creek

July 11, 2010 § 3 Comments

Public officials on Compton Creek last week. Photo: Mia Lehrer.

Last Wednesday’s press conference on Compton Creek with EPA official Lisa Jackson has been the source of much navigability excitement in the creekfreak blogosphere, but as Joe mentioned, the press conference had another purpose: to bring together officialdom to celebrate and unite in purpose around acquisition of part of Compton Creek.

If you think the navigability issue on LA’s waterways is tricky, you should take a look at ownership! « Read the rest of this entry »

Little chirps in praise of willows and floods

June 7, 2010 § 29 Comments

Photo: Don Sterba, reprinted by LA Times

[ERRATA: Photo of Least bell’s vireo was previously erroneously attributed to the LA Times. The photographer is Don Sterba, who also was the person to see and identify the bird. Apologies to Mr. Sterba for the error. The LA Times published his photo with credit, the oversight here was mine.]

Two pair of Least bell’s vireo, an endangered willow-loving bird, have set up camp in the vicinity of the Ballona Freshwater Marsh. Thanks to the Friends of Ballona Wetlands blog and the LA Times for getting the word out!  The Times piece also touches on the controversy associated with the freshwater marsh and Playa Vista development. I do disagree with the Times’ characterization of the drainage “ditch” Hughes dug. It may have become a drainage ditch, but early USGS maps clearly indicate that Centinela Creek flowed through the land that became Hughes’ airfield, and the landscape there would have been a floodplain and likely transitional freshwater or brackish marsh area, the “ditch” a functioning creek.   « Read the rest of this entry »

Creek celebration at El Dorado Nature Center

March 30, 2010 § 2 Comments

The newly re-made (man-made) stream at El Dorado Nature Center

The El Dorado Nature Center’s stream flows again!  The City and construction team, led by Bubalo  Construction, completed the regrading of the stream, protecting the banks with a mix of coir fabric and in places of high traffic, stone retaining walls. Willows staked into the coir will grow into trees, stabilizing the banks with their roots. « Read the rest of this entry »

Streambank sushi

December 28, 2009 § 2 Comments

Down in Long Beach, streambank stabilization continues.  The Friday before the Christmas holidays, Drew Goetting of Restoration Design Group (in other words, my boss) flew down from Berkeley to train folks working at the El Dorado Nature Center on the process.  Following is a little photo essay on making a willow wattle, for example.

The running joke was how much it was like making sushi.  You lay down your fabric (or seaweed) in a little trench, put in the willow and soil (or rice, fish, avocado…) and roll it up.  Two big exceptions to the analogy:  the wattle needs stakes (we used live willow posts that will sprout into trees) and the sushi roll tastes better.

Soil bioengineering techniques like this have been used for centuries, and have found a resurgence in rural areas of America, as well as in some urban restorations in Northern California.  Willow has long been observed to have tenacious roots that provide natural armoring of streambanks.  And while the roots are strong, the trees themselves are flexible: if they fall over in a large flood, they form a layer that also protects the banks.  But it is important to understand the dynamic interplay between a stream’s structure and how it functions, or forms its channel, however, in order to place these treatments correctly.

Stream restoration projects installed a couple of years ago at the Mountains Restoration Trust (Dry Canyon Creek) and (to a lesser degree) on Las Virgenes Creek also used forms of streambank soil bioengineering – proving that it has applicability here in Southern California.

Creekfreak gets sent to the (not-a) Cornfield

September 28, 2009 § 3 Comments

But not in a Twilight Zone kind of a way!  I am giving a talk at the Farmlab/Not-A-Cornfield space, located next to the historic Cornfields aka Los Angeles State Historic Park.

When:  Friday October 9, noon

Where:  1745 North Spring Street, Unit 4, LA 90012

Under the umbrella of Los Angeles & Water, I’ll probably touch on all my favorite subjects – water, Los Angeles, creeks, urban design, political will, birth control…

Come on down!

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