Oak Trees Spared in the Lower Arroyo

Local casting club wanted trees cut down to allow for lessons and casting tournaments

Published : Thursday, May 10, 2018 | 5:07 AM

A nearly 25-year-old grove of eight Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia, trees in the Lower Arroyo was spared the axe Wednesday in a vote by the City Urban Forestry Advisory Committee.

The committee voted 3-2 to uphold a Department of Public Works recommendation that the trees be retained.

Speakers representing both the Arroyo Advisory Group (“One Arroyo”), and the Arroyo Seco Foundation argued before the Committee against the trees’ removal.

According to the Public Works Staff Report, the Department received a public tree removal request for the eight trees from the Pasadena Casting Club (PCC) on March 20. The trees are approximately 30 to 100 feet south of the casting pond.

In its request, the Pasadena Casting Club asserted that the subject trees inhibit use of the casting pond, specifically, long distance casting which requires approximately 90 feet of unobstructed space to back-cast.

“Long distance casting is an activity that the PCC desires in order to further their goals of promoting and providing instruction for fly fishing, as well as hosting tournament competition,” said the request.

Public Works responded in its report that the subject trees should be retained, as “the trees do not reasonably inhibit the other activities of the PCC, such as regular casting classes and events. Additionally, the goal of balancing the natural preservation of the Arroyo with appropriate recreational activities is consistent with the Lower Arroyo Master Plan.”

In addition, the Public Works report acknowledged that “Guiding Principles” for the Arroyo Seco were developed to serve “as the umbrella under which fall the specific goals and objectives for each of the Arroyo Seco Master Plans. These six Guiding Principles were developed collaboratively between members of the community, members of the Recreation and Parks Commission, members of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee, and City staff.”

In a letter to Michael King, Tree Ordinance Enforcement, Pasadena Public Works Department, C. Eric Callow, PCC Public Relations Chair, wrote, “The casting pond and associated Casting Club grounds have long been listed in the Lower Arroyo Park Master Plan as a recognized element of the Park under the status of unfunded capital improvement project.”

When funds were found, said Callow, the City rebuilt the pond in 2011. Carrow added that “Since the purpose of the rebuilt pond was to support casting activities it follows that the improperly sited trees blocking use of the facility should be removed.”

“As indicated,” said Callow, “the pure physical mass of the trees blocks usage of nearly half of the south end of casting pond and are growing steadily. The club deems full access to the south end as essential to its ability to deliver activities for the public.

“Over twenty years have passed since the original plantings and the trees have matured to the point where they are blocking use of over 40% of south end of the casting pond,” Callow continued. “The impact on Club programming is severe and significantly impedes our ability to deliver the recreational activities that are at the heart of the club’ s relationship with the City. The south end of the pond is unique in offering a safe and practical venue for long distance casting, that is, casts of fifty to ninety feet in length that are part of advanced instruction and tournament competition.”

The Department’s report noted that “The Lower Arroyo is a unique ecological habitat within the City. The goals of the Lower Arroyo Master Plan states that the natural character of the Arroyo should be restored, preserved and enhanced. Additionally, recreational activity should be appropriate within the Lower Arroyo, and negative environmental impacts as a result of recreation should be avoided.”

Notices for the hearing were taped around the trunks of the trees in question, and a frequent walker in the lower Arroyo notified Pasadena Now of the meeting. Mayor Terry Tornek said Wednesday evening he was unaware of the issue.

Had the trees been removed by the City, the PCC would have been liable for an estimated $17,402.10 in tree replacement fees, and an additional $2,000 for the cost of the tree removals.

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