Monday, December 29, 2014

Hahamongna: Digging deep



I end every day of my life with some nagging question or other. According to recent studies, insomnia kills, so this nocturnal nagging-question thing is a bad habit, probably on par with smoking or drugs but without any short-term euphoria to recommend it.

Of the thousand questions I toss about -- just to peel a few off the top of my head -- the mystery of the stock market, the popularity of Garrison Keillor, and the City/County's desire to scrawl their bureaucratic graffiti all over Hahamongna Natural Watershed Park.

For those who don't know, Hahamongna Natural Watershed Park is a rough and tumble bit of wilderness that rubs shoulders with Altadena, La Canada, and Pasadena. Whatever rain falls on the Haha (3 inches last year, about 7 inches this year) sinks into the soil and recharges the Raymond Basin, or if need be, is held in check at the southern-most end by the Devil's Gate Dam.

Once part Flintstones-type rock quarry and part open space, the Haha is now a habitat for trees, owls, coyotes, wildcats, frogs, ducks, geese, hikers, camps, scouts, schools, horseback riders, photographers, mountain bikers. (Oh, and let's not forget the foragers. I took a hands-on class once, gathering edible greenery along the trails. For graduation, we made a salad. Let's just say, lots of bottled dressing -- that's the ticket.)

Anyway, what I've learned about local government, it's always open season on open space -- on nature of the natural kind if it exists within city limits. And the deck is stacked. Think Monopoly, except the game starts with your opponent owning all the real estate, hotels, banks, and utilities, while all you've got is the $2 house on Mediterranean Avenue and a tennis shoe.

Still, the tennis shoe triumphed a couple of years ago. The Pasadena bureaucrats took it hard, really hard, when public pressure lost them and their highly-paid consultants and committees a two-decades long battle to stuff the Haha full of parking lots, toilets, and soccer fields.

So, game-changer. Now a new set of hit-men and hit-women have come on board with a fresh group of hired guns. Last year and quite suddenly really, the county decided it's imperative to implement a drastic plan for silt removal to protect the dam's capacity. A five-year process that would denude acreage, drain lakes, destroy wildlife habitat, via 400 dump trucks scooping out the wilderness five days a week.

The public turned out in force, not just to protest, but to offer a viable and habitat-saving alternative. No go.

Our tennis shoe is in peril. Not to mix metaphors, I'm just incapable of doing otherwise, our tennis shoe is behind the eight-ball.

If you live in the area, and appreciate a bit of nature in your life, you might want to consider what 400 trucks a day over the next five years would mean to your quality of life. Here's a campaign, requesting contributions to save Hahamongna.

And if you don't live in the area, just keep an eye out for what might be threatened in your own backyard. Once these spaces are gone, they're lost and gone forever. If the five-year plan goes through, and Hahamongna is left a dusty, 850-acre hole, I guarantee one city or county council or another will get the soccer fields and hot dog stands it always wanted.

28 comments:

  1. You must play the long game - harass, delay, hold, retreat - begin again. After next year there'll be no funds for 400 dump trucks. Or their driver's pensions. Stocks will be fine. Answered two questions!

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  2. I like your attitude, William. It's hard for me to be cheerful after years of this, but I haven't been in it nearly as long as some folks, who've been holding the City and County up to their own standards for 20 some-odd years. This latest thing is apparently strictly County; even the City protested it. As for the galumphing, idiotic County Board of Supervisors (minus one), I know where I'd like to stick my tennis shoe.

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  3. Very good advice, Karin, as I'm sure every little piece of the natural world is threatened. I just learned Supervisor Don Knabe approved clearing trees in a bird refuge in Marina del Rey "as part of a renovation project in the flood control basin area." http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/12/27/activists-rally-to-stop-development-of-senior-living-facility-at-oxford-lagoon/

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  4. "Let's just say, lots of bottled dressing." When Anonymous even thanks you, you know you've inspired courage from the ranks.

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  5. You ever put places to music? I do, all the time. This is early morning at.Hahamongna

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  6. Where is Baxter Ward when we need him?

    I agree with William.

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  7. That's so sad. I don't understand bureaucrats. We have a gravel pit near where we live and I can tell you 400 trucks a day is no small thing. I'll pray for a miracle to unfold for Ha Ha because, ultimately, this kind of screwball thinking affects us all.

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  8. By the way, one does not have to live in the Haha area to help us out. We could use it and we'll be grateful.

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  9. For those who live within earshot of Haha, consider this: Four hundred trucks a day. Say every dump trunk beep-beep-beeps 10 times per trip. That's 4000 beeps a day, 20,000 beeps a week, 1.04 million beeps a year.

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  10. Wonderful piece [I wanted to call it a column]. Since I'm into year-end donations right now, I'll save something for the cause. And Petrea, if you come to my house, please leave those tennis shoes outside, sympathetic though I am.

    About that foraging, remember the rule is to not eat anything lower than the tallest dog's leg.

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  11. Put that in the paper: One Million beeps per year. How many people will not want to hear that? I've been following your Haha Saga for a while, and hope this latest group of bozos are foiled. At least the idiots here aren't trying to mess with a beautiful natural area.

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  12. Like the commercial, " I am mother nature. I don't need you. But you need me." Political hacks and their money sloshing contractors are true evil.
    Photo. Funny iphone colors

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  13. Beautiful photos of Hahamongna and the cards with different birds! Love the video too.
    Really it looks a precious environmental treasure.

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  14. Doris, excellent rule. I've decided not to forage, as last year I mistook hemlock for coriander. We'll have to take a walk around there, tho, in the near future.

    Kenny Mac and Paula, yes, $$$$$$$'s

    Marjie, I know, I've written about Haha for the past five years now; it's now my annual event, as it's always under threat of extinction.

    Sonia, I know, they really put a nice campaign together, didn't they?

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    Replies
    1. Yes Karin, just a nice campaign.
      Love your photo too!! :)

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  15. Yes - "...the popularity of Garrison Keillor." Re-working the same joke for 30 years through whistling dentures does not work for me.

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  16. Local politics continue to be a puzzle to me. I much preferred living near Washington, D.C. where I could get caught up in national politics instead. The capital city of Maine was a quagmire, and the little town I live in now is nothing more than a "good ol' boys' club" where no one wants to know our name if you're not one of them. I understand why people check out. I do wish the Hahamongna all the best and will check out the link you provided. Happy New Year~

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  17. Wow. Well said thanks for the info.

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  18. Very well written. Best of luck to all of you fighting for this special place.
    May 2015 bring positive changes!

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  19. " If the five-year plan goes through, and Hahamongna is left a dusty, 850-acre hole, I guarantee one city or county council or another will get the soccer fields and hot dog stands it always wanted."

    that's the scariest truth of all

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  20. K - don't let it keep you up at night, I'm handling that one for the both of us.
    Sharon - I'm in awe of the folks who have been fighting the good fight on this issue.
    Margaret - You're welcome. Lots of websites out there detailing what we stand to lose.
    Ms M - Thank you; we'll see.
    PA - That would be heartbreaking.

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  21. I was always partial to the 'top hat' in Monopoly, yet I detested the game. Any game that occupies more than an hour of my life is a no go. Now, Candyland, THAT was a game! Maybe the top hat and the Candyland board is just what these types need. Frig the dump trucks moving earth.

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  22. As Patti Smith might say....people have the power....good luck and happy new year!!

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  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  24. Between local governments and real estate developers, there won't be any open spaces left eventually.

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