The proposed clearcutting of an ancient grove of oak and sycamore trees in Arcadia (now being called the Arcadia Woodlands) has created an uproar, but even if we save this grove today, we may not save the next grove tomorrow without solving our Silt Problem.
Saving the Oaks:
The LA County of Public Works needs to dredge the silt out of the Santa Anita Dam. So far so good, but their idea to dump it on a pristine grove next to the Angeles National Forest seems insane in this day and age. The LA Times published some beautiful photos of the area to be cleared for the silt dump. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-arcadia-oaks-pictures,0,2198704.photogallery
I'm not an arborist, but those oak trees look a lot older than 100 years.
Off the top of my head a few arguments against hacking down pristine watershed come to mind:
LA County appears to be violating it's own law against cutting oak trees:
The Los Angeles Department of Public Works has links to their reports on the Santa Anita Reservoir Sediment Removal Project on their website. http://dpw.lacounty.gov/wrd/Reservoir/
On glancing through the LACPW report it appears that there are several endangered plants and animals that will be impacted by this project. I find it hard to believe they didn't find some of the other plants and animals they were supposed to survey for. It would be great if we could get someone from Sierra Club, Audubon and/or a Native Plant Society up there to take a closer look -- hint, hint.
Adding this land to the Angeles National Forest seems like a better option than clearcutting. Where are the Oaks Preservation people?
Now, I like to scream and protest as much as the next Californian but my Personal Druidic Campaign to Save The Oaks aside, we still haven't dealt with the silt. We need to find a long term solution to the silt created in all the reservoirs across our all our foothills. If LADPW is able to just dump it on the ground, I am assuming there are no chemicals in this silt. If it flows from the Angeles National Forest it probably is clean -- making it pure gold for gardeners and landscapers.
Why are we treating this nutrient-rich natural resource like garbage? The state of Illinois and the Army Corps of Engineers has been experimenting with recycling silt for a few years now with a program called Mud to Parks:
They have been able to reclaim lands and restore riverbeds with excellent results while cleaning up the Illinois River. Why aren't our federal representatives working with the Army Corps to get a few of their people over to help us with a similar program? Why aren't County engineers talking to Illinois about this? Where is all that innovative, green California spirit I keep hearing about? Seriously, clearcutting ancient oaks for a garbage dump sounds like a line out of an Airplane movie; surely Los Angeles can do better than that!
Silt = Gardening Gold
As a gardener clean silt, like compost, is invaluable for augmenting and improving soil. LA County already has a green mulch recycling program going: http://dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/sg/index.cfm
Why can't we augment our compost with silt? If they can't find a way to use this resource why can't citizens swing past the existing silt pile in Arcadia to pick up a load like we already can at County Green Recycling centers?
Better yet, how about raising some revenue by selling silt as valuable topsoil like the Fox Waterway Agency is doing? Once again gold flows out of the San Gabriel mountains and what does California do? Trash it. Please just once could we stop being so wasteful and short sighted?
It appears several people are organizing to save the Arcadia Woodlands. If you have a Facebook page, Arcadia Woodlands Flicker group or other resources specifically related to Arcadia or Silt Recycling please post it here. And I have started the twitter tag #ArcadiaWoodlands for your viewing and posting pleasure.