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 »

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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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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 »

News and Upcoming Events – December 3 2008

December 3, 2008 § Leave a comment

Look ma, I’m a consolidator!

Disturbing Photos of Los Cerritos – Viewer Discretion Advised – Long Beach Press Telegram coverage of county maintenance crews vacuuming up tons of debris from the Los Cerritos Wetlands.  Shocking photos by Jeff Gritchen. Perhaps we should send the Green Gorilla out there, or, even better yet, prevent that trash from getting in our rivers by reducing its sources.  Perhaps banning styrofoam would be a good start. (thanks Curbed LA)

The Aquarium of the Pacific new watershed environmental exhibition, classroom, and native garden

At the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach: new watershed environmental exhibition, classroom, and native garden! (click on photo for Aquarium website)

Aquarium of the Pacific’s New Watershed Exhibit – Los Angeles Times blogger Louis Sahagun profiles the Long Beach aquarium’s newest and greenest exhibit with a three-dimensional model of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers.  The content sounds great, and it’s all wrapped up in a LEED-certified green building.  I am hoping to take some neices and nephews down there over the holidays for an on-the-ground review – keep your RSS tuned to LA Creek Freak.

Duarte Approves San Gabriel River Greenway Project – Cities of Duarte and Azusa, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the RMC (Lower Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers and Mountains Conservancy) are working together to move forward with the El Encanto Nature Trail along the upper San Gabriel. I only wish the Pasadena Star News coverage didn’t use the unfortunate phrase “paving the way.” 

Beginnings of the Verdugo Wash Greenway?City of Glendale approves community garden site along the Arroyo Verdugo.

Piscine Pasadena Project Procures POWER PrizePasadena Now reports that the Central Arroyo Seco Stream Restoration project, which restored habitat for the threatened Arroyo Chub, was honored by Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform (POWER.)  Kudos to the city of Pasadena and the Arroyo Seco Foundation!  They deserve a round of applause.

Upcoming Meetings and Tours:

The city of Los Angeles and the Army Corps of Engineers invite you to a River Update Meeting on Thursday December 4th (that’s tomorrow) from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the Metropolitan Water District Board Room at 700 North Alameda Street, LA 90012 (easy transit access – next to Union Station.)  First half of the meeting is on LA city projects, second half is on the parallel Army Corps’ Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study.  (Note: Apologies for my previously incorrectly announcing that this meeting would include an EPA navigability hearing.  It won’t.  The navigability stuff is scheduled not for December 16th… I will let you know more details on that meeting when I get them.)

Creak Freek’s Joe Linton will lead a mini-tour of the Los Angeles River this Saturday December 6th.  Departs promptly at 2:30pm (arrive at 2:15pm) at Los Angeles State Historic Park (easy transit access – Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station.)  The car caravan tour will last about 2 1/2 hours, touching down at four sites from lush and scenic Elysian Valley to the concrete Arroyo Seco Confluence to the new state park at the Cornfields.  Costs $10 for Students, $20 for general public.  Organized by Alexis Lantz, UCLA School of Urban Planning.  Space limited – as of right now there are only a few more slots available.  For info and to rsvp email alexislantz [at] gmail.com

Jenny Price leads Friends of the Los Angeles River’s first tour of the Lower Los Angeles River this Sunday December 7th.  Bus departs from the River Center at 9am.

The city of Los Angeles is hosting a couple of public hearings about the River Improvement Overlay zone (called the RIO and reviewed by Creek Freak here.)   These take place on Friday December 12 at 12 noon in Van Nuys, and Monday December 15th at 8am at City Hall.

Urban Photo Adventures Los Angeles River tour December 13 and 14

Urban Photo Adventures Los Angeles River tour December 13th and 14th

Urban Photo Adventures hosts a photo safari through the gritty industrial underbelly of the mighty Los Angeles River on Saturday and Sunday December 13th and 14th. “New Lousy Economy Pricing!” Well organized and highly reccommended and docented by author/illustrator/blogger Joe Linton.  Creek Freak reviewed here and posted more photos here.  Great recent images and rave reviews at Urban Photo Adventures site.

And don’t miss the downtown Los Angeles Library’s ongoing “L.A. Unfolded” historic map exhibit (reviewed here.)  It’s up now and continues through January 22nd 2009.

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