Monday, March 28, 2011

Destruction: Public Resources

A post from Cam Stone regarding La Tuna Canyon:

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is well along on its planning to destroy another pristine urban wilderness to create a new regional sediment dump. The parallels to the destruction of the Arcadia Woodlands is striking. This is yet another pristine wilderness that has been owned by the DPW and fenced off from public access for decades. I was able to circumvent the formidable fence and hiked into this wilderness with a friend to take pictures and see what we could descover up in this beautiful canyon. What we found was a magical place of extreme historic and natural value. We also found that the DPW has already hammered death tags into over sixty mature oak trees including a 400 year old patriarch with an eight foot diameter trunck! The canyon now has survey marker sticks all over. See the photos here.

As Cam points out, the County DPW strategy of encroaching on public lands in order to destroy them is all too familiar. The Arcadia Woodlands was the first example of circumventing the public process, and intimidating the public and the citizens who are trying to raise awareness of these tactics used to remove valuable watershed and riparian areas for the purpose of sediment dumping. All to "preserve" an ill-designed and poorly maintained system for watershed management. This amounts to the removal of valuable ecosystem that is important to the watershed and regional ecosystems and destroy it for short-term financial reasons. It would seem that the County is not qualified to manage this public resource that has immense natural value.

An article from the LA Weekly outlines the issues that have come to a head with the arraignment of "The Arcadia 4" in the Arcadia Woodlands debacle:

“The preeminent threat here is the large population pressures on the edge of development,” Quigley says. “Whether it is to dump, or build roads and housing, government agencies have traditionally undervalued these natural resources, and they routinely draft plans to bulldoze right through them.”

The foursome’s stand lasted just a day, as they sat in the great, gnarly oak trees, defied the bulldozers and 50 Sheriff’s deputies, and made the nightly news.

But the reverberations continue to ripple, calling into question the actions of the county’s Department of Public Works, the alleged complicity of County Supervisor Michael Antonovich in the destruction of the woodland, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca’s deputies’ successful attempt to block close-up media coverage and Cooley’s seemingly heavy-handed prosecution of the four activists.

Defense attorney Colleen Flynn, who represents all four protesters, says she is hopeful Cooley’s office would see the folly in playing hardball with the eco-activists.

These actions bode ill for the Hahamongna Watershed Park and La Tuna Canyon, which are now facing the same fate as the Arcadia Woodlands from the County in spite of public protest of these actions.