Devil in the Details
County’s ‘Big Dig’ sediment removal plan could kill endangered species inhabiting area around Devil’s Gate Dam
|July 14, 2016 - André Coleman outlines the issues at stake in the County's Big Dig program for Hahamongna Watershed Park.|
|Two meetings will be held to update residents on plans by Los Angeles County officials to remove 2.4 million cubic yards of sediment from Devil’s Gate Dam. |
The first meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena.
The second meeting starts at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Main Room of the La Cañada Community Center, 4460 Chevy Chase Drive, La Cañada Flintridge.
The amount of sediment being considered in what is being called “The Big Dig” is enough to fill the Rose Bowl five times.
Although preservationists and residents agree the sediment should be removed, they claim the county plan, which would involve as many as 450 truck trips per day in and out of the area, could lead to the death of the two bird species, as well as increases in noise and air pollution.
Last week, members of the Arroyo Seco Foundation and the Audubon Society held a news conference at the dam to announce opposition to the filing of permits by Los Angeles Flood Control District.
According to Laura Garrett, conservation chair of Pasadena’s Audubon Society, the permits, if approved, would allow for the removal of the Least Bell’s Vireo and the Southwest Willow Flycatcher.
“The county, in requesting authorization to ‘take’ Least Bell’s Vireos, admits that the Big Dig program will remove habitat where the Least Bell’s Vireo has been observed by Audubon Society members, and that the sediment removal activities will likely kill nesting Least Bell’s Vireo, but they ignored this in their environmental impact report for the project,” Garrett wrote in a statement.
The last time the county removed a significant amount of sediment from the area was in 1994, when workers hauled out 160,000 cubic yards of soil. Since that time, about 2.7 million cubic yards have built up around the dam. An additional 1 million cubic yards of debris was dumped into the area by the Station Fire in 2009.
Local residents have long been fighting to maintain the nearby 1,300-acre Hahamongna Watershed Park as green space for families and hikers. Located between Altadena and Pasadena in the Upper Arroyo Seco, Hahamongna provides access to foothill trails in La Cañada Flintridge and US Forest Service property further north, into the San Gabriel Mountains.
The park is managed by the city under guidelines laid out in the Hahamongna Watershed Park Master Plan, which calls for the city to restore, enhance and reestablish historic native plants of the Arroyo Seco.