Month: October 2011

Earth quotes: Kathleen Dean Moore

Kathleen Dean Moore (courtesy photo Nye Beach Writers' Series)

The now-defunct Discover Magazine published this snippet in a 2003 article on returning salmon. Both Moore and her husband, Jonathan, shared the byline.

“Looking out over the gravel beach, the blue inlet, the whitewashed rocky islands, the floating loons and soaring gulls, I am beginning to understand that the stream the scientists are studying is not just a little creek. It’s a river of energy that moves across regions in great geographic cycles.

“Here, life and death are only different points on a continuum. The stream flows in a circle through time and space, turning death into life across coastal ecosystems, as it has for more than a million years. But such streams no longer flow in the places where most of us live.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

San Gabriel Mountains inch closer to national park service protection

Could this sign soon include “national recreation area”? (Courtesy Forest Camping)

UPDATE: President Obama created the newest national monument on Oct. 10, 2014, by setting aside 346,000 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Los Angeles’s natural resources have been on fire lately, with a burn that isn’t whipped up from a blistering fall Santa Ana. In June, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership chose the L.A. River as one of seven polluted city waterways to clean up, then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowed a pilot kayak and canoe program on the river in August. And now the National Park Service is determining whether our own San Gabes might be suitable for a national recreation area.

According to its website, “The National Park Service (NPS) prepared the Draft San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed Special Resource Study to determine whether all or part of the study area is significant, suitable, and feasible for designation as a unit of the national park system. Congress authorized this study in 2003.

“The study area covers approximately 700,000 acres of land in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan region, including urban communities, local and regional parks and open space, and 415,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest.”

While stopping short of recommending national park protection, the NPS suggests four alternatives:

— expand the current Angeles National Forest to include the area

— turn the vast watershed into a national recreation area

— partner with other agencies to create something else

— or don’t budge.

In our era of downsized America, don’t think the last option might not appeal. After all, California is in the midst of closing 70 state parks to save money, and the national park system remains woefully underfunded. The department’s annual budget is $2.9 billion and includes some 28,000 full-time employees and over 2 million volunteers. President George Bush campaigned on a promise to wipe out an estimated $5 billion backlog in park maintenance projects, which had swelled to $9 billion by 2009, according to CNN, and was reduced by $1 billion through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds.

Michael Kellett, director of the New National Parks Project, told the liberal website Remapping Debate that he would like to see more federal land be made into national parks and be brought under the umbrella of NPS protection, a change he thinks might actually save the tax payers money.

Lovin’ the East Fork of the San Gabriel River at sunset (Jim Burns)

“What is missing from the conversation of the costs of new parks,” he said, “is that we are already paying to manage these lands and that it would probably be cheaper to make them national parks,” because many places adjacent to parks or that could be potential parks are already federally owned. Many are national forests, which are owned by the public but are logged, mined, or otherwise used by private business for small fees. The government maintains the roads and infrastructure of these areas and charges businesses for a permit to used the lands.

In her story, KPCC reporter Kitty Felde tells us that at least two major dems are on board:

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said she was “pleased the National Park Service is taking the next step toward preserving the unique natural resources of the San Gabriel Mountains and Puente Hills,” while Democratic Rep. Judy Chu said she was, “glad to see that the study has incorporated many of the comments voiced by the public, local stakeholders, and members of Congress.”

So … why don’t you get your opinion on the record? The public comment period kicks off at the El Monte Senior Center (odd place for a kick off …) Saturday, Oct. 29, and runs through mid-December.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Which is your fav, the West or East Fork of the San Gabriel River?

Got Fish? You want to have caught plenty before filling out the survey. (Jim Burns)

Spurred on by an article in the current California Fly Fisher magazine, I spent most of Friday hiking and fishing on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. Richard Alden Bean’s enticing article made me do it.

“The East Fork is a truly wild river in its upper sections and has recently been added to both the Wild Trout Program and the Heritage Trout Program of the California Department of Fish and Game,” he wrote.

This was good news, if for no other reason than I’ve got a golden trout and squat else toward my plaque. As the DFG website says, “By catching six different forms of California native trout from their historic drainages and photographing these fish you can receive a colorful, personalized certificate featuring the art of renowned fish illustrator Joseph Tomelleri.”  Your specific prey, according to Bean, is the coastal rainbow trout.

But …

First off, I loathe Friday, Saturday and Sunday fishing in the San Gabes, because what you end up with is people, people and more people. You’ve got your hikers, your waders, your drinkers; you’ve got your families with young children and water-wading dogs trying to help a fisherman by pointing at the one fish in the pool before pawing at the splash. I mean I’m very happy all sorts of different folks use the water on the weekends … just not so happy to be confined to using it with them, due to that little thing called making money (Remember the adage, “You’ve either got time, or money.”).

Long story short, I got Friday-skunked on the East Fork, and it’s never a fun feeling. As I tramped out near dusk, I vowed to come back soonest, but I wonder if readers of this blog wouldn’t share some inspiration in the meantime.

Which is your favorite fork?

Don't you just hate getting skunked? (Jim Burns)

Do you prefer the West with its accessible bike path and easy downhill ride back to the parking lot? Its fishable access ramps?

Or, do you like the East Fork, known for its pack-station appeal, and winding path to the fabled “Bridge to Nowhere”?

See you on the river, Jim Burns