Month: June 2012

A&F Conservancy christens Rosemont Preserve in La Crescenta

OPEN SPACES: The area at the end of Rosemont Avenue in La Crescenta is a mix of private property, flood control access and now eight acres purchased by the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy. (Jim Burns)

Saturday was a good day in La Crescenta, Calif., at least for those who care about open space in our congested Los Angeles basin.

The Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy officially opened its latest acquisition, the 7.75-acre Rosemont Preserve. The land is situated behind a gate  at the mouth of Goss Canyon, which is then backed by an additional 300 acres  maintained, according to conservancy press materials, as mostly wilderness over the decades by private landowners. The gate will remain locked to control access to the property.

Scheduled to appear during the fete was  L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who spearheaded $350,000 in grant money to acquire the now-protected acreage. Donors made up the additional $100,000, which included  contributions of $250 from assembly members Mike Gatto (D-43rd district) and $500 from Anthony Portatino (D-44th district).  According to Gatto’s office, he also helped to raise $10,000 toward the purchase. The sale price of $450,000 was under market value. The real estate site Zillow estimates one home situated on over two acres at the top of Rosemont Avenue at about $883,000.

Preserving the land secures habitat for a range of wildlife, including mule deer, mountain lions, bobcats, bears, coyotes and Arroyo toads, as well as at least 31 bird species, according to the conservancy.

Although it is a win for the area’s wildlife and for groups, most likely school children and volunteers who can access the property through the conservancy, the location remains problematic, at least for neighbors who fear for their serenity because of the newly acquired access. Indeed,while early guests arrived, one resident whose home is next to the gate asked for reassurance from John Howell, executive director and general counsel.

‘X’ MARKS THE SPOT: Local heavies, volunteers and donors were on hand to inaugurate the Rosemont Preserve in La Crescenta Saturday. (Jim Burns)

“They are understandably concerned. It’s been shut off forever. They are concerned about just opening the gates, having it be an open space. It’s not, it will be controlled access,” he said during an interview earlier in the week. “But probably more telling, more significant than that in terms of having it be controlled access is that there’s a neighbor to the north who owns 212 acres.

“So the worst thing that could happen, you know, is announce it, here it is, then a week later she’s got people on her property. She’s got webcams. The first words out of her mouth when I first met her were, ‘I just want you to guarantee that nobody’s going to come on my property. Period.’ So, we’re going to try to turn that negative into a positive.”

Apparently, neighbors had a hand in nixing another plan for the property, to turn it into a school in 2005. The owners of La Canada Preparatory then eventually sold to A&FC during negotiations that first began in 2007.

The next steps for the conservancy, the neighbors and property owners in the area will be about public access.

” It’s a two-step thing: save it and acquire it, and then what do you do with it then?” Howell said.  ” Steward it, husband it and have it be a resource to the community. So we’re going kick off something called the Rosemont Society, which will be (composed of) folks who want to participate on a volunteer basis to help us manage the property.”

BYOB (that’s bag) to begin in Pasadena, July 1

FILL ‘ER UP: By the end of the last Friends of the River Clean Up Day, this baby was a whole lot fuller. (Jim Burns)

Beginning of rant:

If I didn’t fish, I probably wouldn’t care about plastic bags or banning them. But, hey, I do fish, and enjoy plying our urban waters as often as I can. And that’s why I support the Pasadena single-use plastic bag ban that goes into effect July 1. Here’s some background on the decision.

You can say all you want about the evils of the nanny state, but here’s a personal review of how well our waters have fared  without our Uncle Nanny:

— item, 1998, West Fork weekend overrun overwhelms me. How much trash can anyone actually leave in a river? Take a look at these recent, enlightening photos from West Fork San Gabriel Conservancy.

— item, 2007, used throwaway diaper floats by, blind-pooping me in the leg, on Bouquet Creek. Admit to gag response.

— item, 2010, Hanging out on the L.A. River with new-found, grade-school kids who want to learn to fish. No child should have to play near trees fouled by dozens, and dozens and dozens of filthy plastic bags. Drove home truly pissed off.

So, if you’re an urbanite who is equally pissed off about the bag ban, I suggest you go down to the L.A. River, or to any of our beaches, or to the mountains and pick up some of the junk that’s been left behind. For some reason, cleaning up after others when you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself brings it home.

And if you’re a libertarian fly fisher, come up with a better solution than the ban. Not theory, somehow based on the Constitution, but something that might actually decrease the junk floating around the Southland.

Meanwhile, I’ve been hoping that either the city or local business will give bags away for a day, as the Department of Public Works folks did in La Canada last year. No word as of this writing. Once you’ve got your own bags,  just keep them in your car. It took me about three months to get tired of walking into the store sans bag. That’s what my wife calls  “training” … She’s right!

Now, about those plastic bottles …

End of rant.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Visit North Atwater Creek Pocket Park (if you can find it …)

Bird’s eye view: Inside a storm drain, safe for kids, one of the many improvements made at the North Atwater Creek Pocket Park. (Jim Burns)

When I first began exploring the L.A. River, problem No. 1 was finding it. My son and I encountered lots of barbed wire fences, dead-end big box parking lots, and industrial parks, all situated basically on the river, and all with no access granted. That was two years ago, and even though I now have my favs that get us to the carp, the river is basically an insider’s secret.

So, too, are the pocket parks scattered around its concrete banks. The first time I heard about the Yoga Pocket Park in Atwater Village, I thought someone was pulling my downward dog-facing legs … not so. The originators of this tiny green space — I believe the lead was Northwest Trees, but can’t swear to it — were afraid that a more traditional exercise park, based on stations for strenuous physical exercise, would bring gangs.

Today, walking north from the golf course in Atwater Village, through Steelhead Park (another hard-to-find spot, but from the golf course parking lot, head toward the freeway and you’ll see it), you’ll see North Atwater Creek Pocket Park after about 10 minutes of hoofing. Check out the waters here as well …

Open for about eight weeks, the park shows what the river will eventually become: neighborhoods connected instead of rejected; green grass instead of broken asphalt; good vibes instead of creepy. Take a look at the pics below to get a feeling for the place. And, fishermen, there’s a working water fountain, in case you’re thirsty.

This beautiful natural wall and brick work pull your eye toward Griffith Park. (Jim Burns)

Was it worth the $4 million that came primarily, according to city info, from the settlement of two Clean Water Act enforcement actions? Yes, yes, it was. Bring your rod and check it out. And if you have kids, bring them as well.

See you on the river, Jim Burns