A river runs through it
San Gabriel Valley Newspapers -
January 06, 2002
By Roy LaBomme and Emanual Parker
ONE day, you'll be able to take the kids to the San Gabriel River
near Azusa for the day. See the salmon swimming up stream. Swim.
Have a picnic and go for a walk along the water.
Another day, you'll be able to explore
the northern Arroyo Seco in Pasadena between Devil's Gate Dam and
the Brookside Golf Course, and the southern Arroyo between the
Holly and Colorado street bridges. The concrete stream you see
today will be natural, and trails will lead hikers and walkers
through the area.
These dreams are a long way off, but city
officials in Pasadena and Azusa as well as others involved in
various conservancy projects, are taking the first steps toward
restoring the our natural area rivers.
The restoration will begin with a pair of
$1 million state grants, one awarded to the San Gabriel and Lower
Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC), and the other
to the city of Pasadena.
The conservancy's grant will help buy 34
acres of land along the river's banks in Azusa near the defunct
Canyon Inn. The target area is about three miles from the center
of town along Highway 39, where it meets Old San Gabriel Canyon
Road, just this side of the San Gabriel River. Now the area is the
beginning point of a bike path that continues down the river
through Whittier Narrows Recreation area and to Pacific Coast
Highway in Long Beach.
Parcels on both sides of the Old San
Gabriel Canyon Road will be developed and called the Azusa River
"It's some beautiful land up the
canyon," said Mary Angle, RMC executive director. "It's
just a really great place for people to stop off and enjoy being
out of doors."
Nestled in the foothills of the San
Gabriel Mountains and next to the San Gabriel River, Azusa's San
Gabriel Canyon is the gateway to the Angeles National Forest. An
estimated eight million people visit the canyon every year.
Below the forest, the river flows over
natural terrain, but the land around it is used for mining,
housing and business. The city hopes to change that by creating
parks and recreation facilities along the river's shores.
The long-term plans for the Azusa River
Project include hiking and bike trails, pocket parks in available
open space, improved public access and restoration of the natural
fauna and habitat.
The Azusa City Council has made it clear
that restoration and what they call "re-greening" of the
river is a priority," said Robert Person, Azusa assistant
city manager, who has spearheaded the project.
"The river project is four different
projects, including the wilderness-park land acquisition," he
said. "We're working to get a lot of projects done in a short
period of time."
The $1 million-project in Pasadena will
include the northern Arroyo Seco between Devil's Gate Dam and the
Brookside Golf Course, as well as the southern Arroyo between the
Holly and Colorado street bridges.
"South of Devil's Gate Dam are these
big chunks of concrete that don't belong there. We plan to take
those out," said Tim Brick, with the Arroyo Seco Foundation,
a group whose goal is to restore as much of the waterway as
possible to a natural state.
"There's exotic vegetation that we
will remove and replace with natural stream vegetation,"
Brick said. "And we will stabilize the stream banks. We also
plan to build up the trails people use to hike in those
The project that will create the Azusa
River Wilderness Park and help with the Arroyo project, were two
of eight state grants totaling almost $10 million for projects
along the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers.
The money comes from Gov. Gray Davis'
Urban Parks Strategy, which uses state funds to acquire and
restore parks in heavily urban areas.
"Clean water is critical to
maintaining a healthy quality of life for Californians,"
In a break with previous water bonds,
funds from the "Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed
Protection, and Flood Protection Act of 2000" were also
earmarked for recreational projects and acquisitions in urban
-- Emanuel Parker can be reached at (626)
578-6300, Ext. 4475, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roy LaBomme can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2730 or by
e-mail at email@example.com.