Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bike the Arroyo! Cleanup the Arroyo! This Weekend!

Arroyo Lovers will find lots to do this September weekend!

First, join the 'Stream Team' of the Arroyo Seco Foundation as volunteers celebrate 'Coastal Clean-up Day' with trash removal at the Confluence of the Arroyo Seco and the Los Angeles Rivers, beginning at 9am on Saturday, September 17th. The Confluence is labelled as a 'code red' area because of the high level of trash build-up there, so this is a very important river cleanup! Park in the Home Depot parking lot at Figueroa Street and San Fernando Road. Then walk about 100 yards east on San Fernando to the confluence entrance. Wear long pants, socks, closed toed shoes that can get wet, sunscreen, and a hat. Gloves and trash bags will be provided. This is a zero waste event so bring water in a reusable container.

The fun continues on Sunday, September 18th with the Second 'Tour de Arroyo' bicycle ride from Pasadena to the Cornfields/Los Angeles Historic State Park just north of Downtown Los Angeles. Bicyclists of all ages will rally at 8:30am at Memorial Park in Pasadena for an easy 12-mile 'cruise' on surface streets and the in-channel bicycle path southward, in support and celebration of the upcoming construction of the first phase of the Arroyo Seco Bike Way. Cyclists have the option to join up with other riders at the Cornfields for the Southern California Cyclocross following the ride or group dining in Chinatown or a 'sag wagon' ride back up the Arroyo Seco to Pasadena on the Gold Line. This is a family-friendly event and children are welcome.

For more information and to register for these and other Arroyo Seco fall events, visit

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation Honors Reyes at Kick-Off Event

More than 200 guests gathered on the afternoon of September 11th to help 'kick-off' the newly launched Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation on the patio of Atwater Crossing near the Los Angeles River.

An independent organization created by the City of Los Angeles two years ago, the LARRC is a non-profit corporation charged with promoting responsible development, redevelopment, and revitalization along the Los Angeles River corridor, in accordance with the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, according to their website,

Sunday's event drew quite the 'Who's Who' of Los Angeles 'riverly' people. While guests mingled and noshed, facilitator Ron Milam  got the 'riverly' energy going with his LA River wall mural where everyone was encouraged to draw their 'dream project' for the LA River.

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti opened the formal festivities by welcoming the enthusiastic crowd, and introduced LARRC's first Executive Director, Omar Brownson, seen here offering his vision for the River, while LARRC Vice-Chairman and first Corporation Chair Harry Chandler looks on.

Omar, who has extensive experience in start-up organizations, spoke of how he's 'come home' to LA to help move LA River revitalization forward.

In the short few months since Omar's hiring in January 2011, LARRC has launched their website, moved to offices at the LA River Center, and hired two additional staff members to work on fund-raising and office operations.

Among the political dignitaries in the crowd were Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, Los Angeles City Council Member Tom LeBonge, Los Angeles Public Works Director Paula Daniels, Los Angeles City Planning Commission President Bill Roschen, and LA Planning Commissioner Barbara Romero.

The highlight of the day's event was the presentation by LARRC Board Chairman Daniel Tellalian of the first 'Changing the Course of LA' Award to Los Angeles City Council Member and River Champion Ed Reyes. The award, a beautiful bas relief of a blue heron rising from the River, was a commissioned work created by Los Angeles artist Steve Appleton.

During his remarks, award recipient Reyes spoke passionately about his vision for the LA River, forged by more than a decade of river revitalization advocacy within the City, and spoke how immediate attention on river corridor revitalization would bring much needed new jobs to the City of Los Angeles.

Other 'riverly' leaders spotted in the crowd included: LARRC Board Members Bruce Saito and Daphne Zuniga; LA Mayor's Office Liaison Romel Pascual; LA River Committee Liaison Lupe Vela; US Army Corps of Engineers Planning Chief Josephine Axt; LA Bureau of Engineering's Deborah Weintraub;  LA River Office Director Dr. Carol Armstrong with staffers Larry Hsu and Megan Whalen; CRA's Jason Neville; TreePeople's Andy Lipkis; Landscape Architect Mia Lehrer; Master Gardener Glen Dake; and the Trust for Public Land's Carolyn Ramsay.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Community Outreach Set for 'Devil's Gate Reservoir' Sediment Removal Project

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works has announced that it will hold two public scoping meetings as part of its preparation for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) relative to its plan for massive sediment removal and management in  'Devil's Gate Reservoir.' Pasadenans more commonly refer to this basin as the Hahamongna Watershed Park.

The EIR preparation, a result of the County Board of Supervisors' vote a few months ago to require County staff to conduct a full EIR on the sediment removal project, rather than move forward with construction under 'emergency' circumstances, requires public scoping meetings, an initial study preparation, a public comment period, and a draft EIR report. As a general rule, this process takes about two years to complete, unless expedited.

The first public scoping meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 5th at 6:30pm at Pasadena's Rose Bowl in the Stadium Locker Room, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive (Park in Lot F, Enter at Gate C). The second scoping meeting will be held on Saturday, October 15th, at 9:00am in the cafeteria at La Canada High School, 4463 Oak Grove Drive, La Canada.

LA County has created a website that discusses both the EIR process and the current Interim Measures Project (IMP) that is removing sediment directly behind Devil's Gate Dam with sediment storage on the former Johnson Field in the Hahamongna. Click this blog's headline to be taken directly to that site.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tribute to an Arroyo Lover

Pasadena's Arroyo Seco lost a dear Arroyo Lover a couple weeks ago when horse patrol 'guardian' Don Zimmerman died at age 99. Don was a long-time volunteer with the Pasadena Mounted Police Unit.

I did not personally know Don, but all of us who walk, hike, or horseback ride along the Arroyo Seco, especially in the Lower Arroyo Nature Park, knew who Don was.

Three days a week, there he was on his trusty steed, reminding walkers to keep their dogs on leash, admonishing park users not to throw trash on the ground, and cheerily giving directions and offering local color for those visitors who were lost or disoriented.

Even though Don and I only knew each other by the friendly wave that all Arroyo Lovers share, we were kindred spirits. In our own way, we each showed our love for the Arroyo by reminding visitors (and their dogs) all the time to respect our special natural area by picking up trash and doggie doo and staying on trails so that native plant life and endangered species would not be damaged.

While I don't know this for a fact because Don and I never shared our tales, I'm willing to bet that we both got 'yelled at' from time to time by people because we politely asked them to leash their dogs or pick up after their four legged friends. I can't recount all the times that snippy know-it-alls told me that their dogs could do 'whatever they want,' even though I had my Arroyo Seco volunteer shirt on and was very polite. Don had the advantage of being an elder statesman of the Arroyo, sitting above the crowd on the back of Maca, but I'm certain he occasionally got some attitude from these whippersnappers, too.

Of course, Don, I and all Arroyo Lovers only ask other users of the trails to be good stewards so that the Arroyo Seco's beautiful riverine parkland will be here in its natural condition for future generations to enjoy. It's too bad that some of our residents and visitors don't share that respect.

A special memorial service open to all will be held at 11 am on September 17th at the First United Methodist Church, 500 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. If Don Zimmerman ever waved to you on the trails or reminded you to put your dog on a leash, you might want to come by to pay your respects.

Don 'patrolled' the Arroyo Seco on horseback for 25 years. I've only been patrolling for 4 years. I think I still have a long way to go to fill his boots.

Happy Trails, Don.

And if you're out enjoying the Arroyo Seco this holiday weekend, please show some respect for Don by keeping your dog on its leash and bringing trash/doggie doo bags along with you to clean up after yourself.