The Arroyo and Foothills Conservancy is seeking to purchase a sensitive property in Millard Canyon to protect it from development. To assess and promote the importance of this property, members of Pasadena Audubon did organized surveys of bird life on the property throughout the spring of 2012. Here are some interesting facts from their survey report, which was coordinated by Mickey Long.
Sixteen Pasadena Audubon members assisted with these surveys: Judy Bass, Lance Benner, Ron Cyger, Brendan Crill, Darren Dowell, Kathi Ellsworth, John Garrett, Laura Garrett, Frank Gilliland, Susan Gilliland, Mickey Long, Elaine MacPherson, E.J. Remson, Mark Scheel, Janet Scheel, and Norm Vargas
A total of 12 weekly surveys were completed between April 6 and June 24, 2012. Surveys were done in two to three hours, in the morning, and all birds visible from the trail through the property were counted. In addition, Lance Benner did some evening observations from a spot just north of the property, finding Great Horned Owl, Western Screech-Owl, and a Common Poorwill. The surveys were timed to capture the spring migration and breeding season for most local bird species. Many additional bird species are expected to use the property and canyon during fall and winter.
Number of species on each survey ranged between 30 and 38 (average 35) with a total of 76 species seen, cumulatively, in the 12 surveys. Number of inidviduals ranged between 132 and 219 (average 162).
Number of species confirmed to breed on the property was 18, with another 23 potential breeding species, based on their presence on the property well into their breeding seasons.
One of the more memorable surveys occurred the morning of April 6, when 25 Black-throated Gray Warblers were counted. That's a heap o' migration!
The Arroyo and Foothills Conservancy is still campaigning to raise funds to buy this important property, featuring rich habitat and a year-round stream. Pasadena Audubon has twice given them financial support. To learn more about this campaign and to donate, visit www.arroyofoothills.org/millard.
By Laura Garrett – Photo by Dave Bell
The City of Pasadena is planning to build a soccer field and parking lot in Hahamongna Watershed Park and to "restore" many acres of habitat. The field and parking lot will be located east of the current field and parking lot, right in the middle of willow and mule fat habitat. Their plan includes burying up to 27 acres of habitat under 12-25 feet of sediment to create a pad for the field and lot. This will require about 300,000 cubic yards of sediment to be moved from near the dam to the area east of the parking lot. The City is presuming that Los Angeles County Public Works will happily provide the sediment from its own plan to remove over 3 million cubic yards of sediment from behind Devil's Gate Dam. The County is not as sure about this, because moving the sediment from one part of the basin to another will not increase capacity of the dam. But that’s another battle.
The City is required to conduct an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) to determine the impacts of their plan. The first step was the Initial Study, released July 10, which had few details. Once the Initial Study was prepared, that was the time for us to ask questions about this plan. The City held two public scoping meetings to take questions, and they accepted written comments and questions as well. Our comments and questions were due by August 23, 2012.
Next, the City will prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Report. This should respond to our questions and concerns and will be more detailed and specific. We will have another public comment period and some more public meetings. The dates of these events will be determined by the date when the City releases the Draft EIR.
You’ll be happy to know that at the two scoping meetings on July 12 and 14, not one person spoke in favor of this plan and most spoke vehemently against it. Some common concerns included negative impacts on habitat and wildlife, the effects of the County’s sediment removal on this plan, the claim that this plan will not affect traffic, the claim that increased use of pesticides will not affect the environment, water quality, or wildlife, and that the increased noise will not affect the environment or wildlife. Clearly, the word “effect” can have multiple meanings, and it is doubtful that the City looks at impacts on wildlife, including the fifty species of birds that nest there.
Ironically, the day after the second scoping meeting, July 15, Dave Bell (love the name!) found two “Least” Bell’s Vireos right where the field and parking lot are proposed to be built. This is a federally listed Endangered Species. The birds appeared to be an adult and juvenile; the juvenile was making begging calls. Could they have nested there? Dave contacted a bunch of Audubon folks, and Darren Dowell, John Garrett and I re-found the birds that afternoon. Joined by Dave, we were able to get excellent photos and recordings. (That's Dave's photo at the top of this article.) Aided by Lance Benner, John Garrett, Dave Bell and others, Darren Dowell has been faithfully visiting Hahamongna for the last month, and documented the birds’ presence through the middle of August. Could these birds be the nail in the coffin of this incredibly stupid idea to put a soccer field in one of the last bits of open space in Pasadena?
Once we had documentation, I sent it to Chris Medak at the U.S. Fish & WildlifeService. In a conversation with me she said that when the City applies for the many permits it will need to complete this project, our documentation of the birds’ presence will be in the Fish & Wildlife report, and will make it much less likely that the plan can go forward. So it’s not a slam-dunk, but these little birds might have saved the day at Hahamongna.
It isn’t over yet. We need to keep working to save Hahamongna. But those ‘Least’ Bell’s Vireos gave us some excellent ammunition.
To see the Initial Study and the Draft EIR when it’s ready, please visit http://www.hahamongna.com/mbmu.
To join the battle to save Hahamongna, on Facebook, join the group “Save Hahamongna!” Or you can go to www.savehahamongna.org to get updates and information. To get a virtual tour of the area that will be buried, visit You Tube and search for “Take a Tour of the Site of Pasadena’s New Athletic Field.”
Questions? email@example.com or 626-564-1890.
The City of Pasadena is going ahead with its plan to install one athletic field and a parking lot in Hahamongna Watershed Park, which is the open space below JPL. This is despite the fact that at July 12th's Pasadena City Council meeting, 40 speakers spoke out against building any soccer fields in Hahamongna Watershed Park, while not one person spoke out in favor of the fields, and despite all of the scientific evidence that indicates it's a foolish plan. The City did decide not to build a second field in what is currently a small lake, and three Council Members now question the wisdom of building any fields in a watershed and in the middle of what's left of our wilderness in Pasadena. Here are the votes from July 12: In favor of rethinking the installation of athletic fields were Mayor Bogaard and Council Members Holden, McAustin, and Tornek. Against this rethinking and anxious to get the field built were Council Members Gordo, Haderlein, Madison, and Robinson. Send your letters and emails accordingly.
So what can you do? Please write the Mayor or a Councilmember a letter, even if you do not live in Pasadena. If you need a model, you can download my letter. Come to a City Council meeting when they are discussing the EIR, even if you do not live in Pasadena. Visit www.savehahamongna.org and sign the petition, and then send the link to your friends and ask them to sign it too. PAS stands ready to do its part, but it will take all of us to save Hahamongna. Be on the right side of history!
The address for Pasadena City Hall is 100 N. Garfield Ave., Room S228, Pasadena, CA 91109. Or, to email the City Council or Mayor, go to www.ci.pasadena.ca.us. We must do all that we can to save this treasure. The birds are counting on you.
If you, like many others, are concerned about the increasing development in our local foothills, I have wonderful news. We have an opportunity to preserve one of our true local treasures: Rubio Canyon. The Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy is working to buy 21 acres at the mouth of Rubio Canyon. Combined with the 20 acres they purchased in 2009, this would protect and preserve all of Rubio Canyon from the Angeles National Forest to residential streets. Just west of Eaton Canyon, Rubio Canyon is a gem in the Altadena foothills, with a stream that runs year-round, several waterfalls, and diverse habitats including old-growth oak trees, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub, as well as streamside and warm freshwater wetlands. Pockets of southern sycamore, a sensitive plant species, can also be found in the canyon. Needless to say, the Canyon also supports an abundance of birds, including Wrentit and Canyon Wren.
Of course, acquiring this land is not free. The Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy is working to raise $1.3 million by the end of 2010, which will purchase the land, renovate and create trails, and restore habitat. If you can contribute to this cause, please visit www.altadenafoothills.org to make a secure online donation, or send a check to Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy, P.O. Box 3, Altadena, CA 91003. All donations are tax-deductible, and you will be a part of saving a local treasure.
Because the State Parks are so vital to the well-being of California's birds, and because environmental education and conservation are at the center of our mission, the Pasadena Audubon Society is proud to endorse the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund. Vote YES on Proposition 21 on November 2nd! For more information, visit http://www.yesforstateparks.com.