Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Justice 4 Earth Day

The photo above, taken in La Tuna Canyon, is among the most endangered woodlands in our region, according to the Urbanwild Network. You can see that this ancient oak has been tagged for removal, along with most of the other magnificent oaks in this habitat. This group has also listed as under immediate threat of destruction the remaining 10 acres of Arcadia woodland and the Hahamongna watershed, where plans are to clear woodland for sediment disposal and build soccer fields. A detailed examination and discussion of the La Tuna site is here at LA Creek Freak, by Josh Link, who accompanied Cam Stone on the excursion into the canyon.

Yesterday the Urbanwild group assembled for a protest of the arraignment of the four tree sitters at the County Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. The Arcadia Four were present, as were spokespersons Darryl Hannah and Ed Begley, as reported by the National Examiner. This group vociferously defended the tree-sitters and condemned the LACDPW's process and exclusion of public input on their destructive activities in compensating for historic lack of maintenance in order to stay on budget within the County's fiscal constraints.

The tree-sitters were arrested during the January 12 razing of the Arcadia woodlands, which was carried out with a blockade by the County to keep out reporters and citizens, ostensibly for their safety. The Arcadia Four were offered the option of community service, which they refused, presumably because they've already performed it with the actions they are being arrested and indicted for. The County is determined to make an example out of this kind of interference, which will happen on Earth Day, April 22nd. Going beyond the County's provocative actions, Cam Stone is now asking for a probe of LACDPW and its activities.

Update: Arcadia Patch reports that the pretrial conference has now been rescheduled to May 26 at the Alhambra Courthouse.

In further developments, a "listening session" was opened up at the LACDPW headquarters in Alhambra on Monday, April 18th, the day before the arraignment, for the purposes of developing the sediment management plan which includes the most endangered areas. While not an official public session, the representatives of Urbanwild Network were in attendance and made their positions known, as was reported by the Poetic Plantings Blog. In a move to make actual public input known, they were prepared to mitigate the Delphi Technique employed in this and earlier sessions by the County, intended to defuse public opposition to the County's methods of dam and sediment management.

The agenda consisted of the following:

Goal: Manage sediment in order to provide for the flood protection and water conservation needs of the region while balancing environmental, social, and economic impacts.

1. Welcome
2. Sediment Management Strategic Plan: Follow-up from 1st Task Force Meeting
3. Listening Session: Project Development Process Feedback
4. Sediment Management Strategic Plan: Alternatives Screening Tool.
Additional comments on the evaluation criteria may be sent to Dan Sharp
5. California Department of Fish and Game and California Regional Water Quality Control Board Permits
6. Upcoming Reservoir Cleanout Projects: Big Tujunga, Cogswell, Devil's Gate, Pacoima, and Morris.
7. Wrap Up

Update: Environmentalists feel that Cooley should respond to the Arcadia 4 with a "Courageous Citizen Award" rather than arrest and incarceration. The Tattler has an excellent article about the County's response to the public protest of the DPW's actions.