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Arroyo Seco Foundation Seeking More Room for Nursery

Published on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 | 8:05 am

The Hahamongna Native Plant Nursery needs more space according to Arroyo Seco Foundation Executive Director Tim Brick.

The nursery started seven years ago as part of the Arroyo Seco Canyon Project, a habitat enhancement and water conservation endeavor aimed at expanding local water supplies from the Arroyo Seco stream and local groundwater. The project also seeks to improve environmental conditions for fish and the local habitat.

The nursery in the Hahamongna is surrounded by horse facilities and unused space, but continues to occupy less than half an acre in the park which includes 200 acres in the Hahamongna basin.

“We are out of space,” Brick said. “Our lease with the city of Pasadena provides us with the use of less than half an acre, and we have outgrown it. Several thousand native plants from more than one hundred species are crowded into the planter beds and small garden areas. The need for additional space is urgent. We have agreed to provide 5,000 plants to Los Angeles County for their restoration program in the Hahamongna basin, but limited space is constraining our efforts.

“We need space for plant propagation and growing areas. The area just south of our nursery contains several underutilized buildings and large spaces that could be used to expand our efforts.”

 The 5,000 plant commitment is part of The Arroyo Seco Foundation agreement with the Los Angeles County Flood Control District to provide plants for their restoration program in the Hahamongna basin.

The issue was discussed at the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee on Tuesday.

But at that meeting, Pasadena’s Real Estate Manager Jeffery Hernandez said that he rejected the request of the Arroyo Seco Foundation for additional space.

Hernandez characterized the request as being for “storage space,” which he said is not a permitted use in the Hahamongna

Watershed Park Master Plan.

But according to Brick, the ASF is not seeking storage space, but rather space for propagating plants and for expanding educational activities, which are a central part of the nursery’s Mission.

“It’s sad that we were unable to gain more space,” said Sergio Guerrero, who works closely with many volunteers on plant propagation.

“I felt like we were portrayed as asking for more storage but that is not what we are asking for. We are asking for more space to propagate more plants and more space for our education program. We have reached our capacity. It’s just a constant shuffle and everything is just bottlenecking up quite a bit.”

Guerrero said the extra space would allow the nursery to continue good community work.

The nursery provides plants for residents to use in their yards and gardens and also for habitat restoration projects.

This isn’t the nursery’s first battle with the city.

In January 2016, the ASF received an eviction notice from former City Manager Michael Beck informing the nursery directors they could operate for another 90 days, but would not receive any city funds.

Plans in the Hahamongna Master Plan calls for a nursery in the 300-acre waterpark.

The nursery came about after the ASF received a $3.3 million grant from the state’s Integrated Regional Water Management Program. The Pasadena Department of Water and Power added an additional $8 million to start the Arroyo Seco Canyon Project.

The nursery faced another challenge after a local group filed a lawsuit, claiming the ASCP will not make the local water supply any safer or more drinkable due to perchlorate which was dumped there by JPL.

The lawsuit temporarily held up the project and threatened the nursery.

The nursery conducts a public education program in Pasadena regarding the crucial topics of water conservation, environmental stewardship, climate change and biodiversity. Each visitor receives a lesson on nature and native plants, and they take home living reminders of their lessons.

According to Brick, the nursery has been seriously constrained by the lack of space.

“That’s why we asked the city urgently more than six months ago for more space so that we could utilize the unused space on the former Forest Service compound to provide those plants for the restoration program, but we were not informed of Mr. Hernandez’s rejection of our request until he announced it at the public meeting on Tuesday evening,” Brick said. “The nursery is providing about 5,000 plants for the County’s program, but we had hoped to provide more than twice that amount.”

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