Monday, December 29, 2014
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.