Saturday, December 18, 2010

Another Year Later

Again, after a fall rainstorm, the golden leaves are swept away in the wind. We're having a stormy period this time, interspersed with record-breaking high temperatures. This decade is the hottest on record, and the progression keeps slowly moving on, with increasing fires in the foothills. Our local disastrous Station Fire of August of last year has left us with denuded hillsides above the foothill cities in the San Gabriel valley, so those places are expecting rain and mudslides again. Recovery will take years. In the meantime, we're hoping that the US Forest Service will take further responsibility for the management of the remaining forest lands and begin the restoration process in areas that need them.

Restoration and enhancement of viable natural habitat in the mountains and forest lands is crucial to regaining the ecological balance of the woodland habitat, as well as water management issues that arise with the debris basins during the winter. Lately, the County of Los Angeles has attempted to catch up with lack of maintenance in these dams by proposing to truck out large amounts of sediment and dump it into what little riparian area remains. This is happening at the Santa Anita Reservoir and at the Hahamongna Watershed Park near JPL in Pasadena, creating a huge backlash by the local residents. Of course the problem is exacerbated by the debris flows from the fire, but a comprehensive and rational management approach is needed. One that allows the water and sediment to flow downstream and recharge the aquifer in a more natural fashion without destruction of the mature trees and habitat that currently exists.