The city has put out a request for bids for the Lower Arroyo Seco Habitat Restoration Project.
According to the notice inviting bids, the work will include the removal of existing non-native trees and vegetation; installation of native planting material; installation of a new irrigation system; and minor grading and drainage work.
The estimated bid range for the work, which is listed as taking 30 workdays to complete, is $350,000 to $450,000.
When the then-La Loma Bridge, now named the John K. Van de Kamp Bridge, was rehabilitated two years ago, the project did not include a work element to restore the habitat in the area surrounding the structure.
The project will see the planting of 11 Southern California Black Walnut trees, 14 Coast Live Oak trees, 17 Western Sycamore trees, and approximately 2,000 understory shrubs and herbaceous plants.
In September, the city’s Urban Forestry Advisory Committee (UFAC) agreed to recommend for approval the Lower Arroyo Habitat Restoration Program.
The UFAC agreed to spare 22 pine trees after a group of local residents began calling for some trees to be left alone.
The project originally included the removal of 106 non-native plants and the removal of 11 dead trees to re-establish the physical and biological characteristics of the Arroyo Seco’s native habitats to a natural state, void of invasive, non-native plants.
A local preservationist said he was pleased with the support for a local restoration project in the Lower Arroyo, but did not agree with a vote that will see some non-native trees remain in the area.
“ASF [Arroyo Seco Foundation] is pleased that the UFAC agreed to recommend the Lower Arroyo Habitat Restoration Program,” said foundation Managing Director Tim Brick. “But we feel that leaving in a grove of exotic pine trees in a key area near the Van de Kamp Bridge is a big mistake. Those trees are not well-adapted to the local climate and have serious pest problems that can spread to native trees and plants. They don’t promote a healthy ecosystem or the birds and wildlife that are so important in the Lower Arroyo nature preserve.”
On its website, the ASF said the Lower Arroyo Seco is a nature preserve as defined by the Arroyo Seco Public Lands Ordinance, which reflects the city’s policy to protect and enhance the natural character of the Arroyo.
“Planting shall be limited to native plants,” the ordinance states, “that may be planted with material appropriate to the Arroyo Seco and the semi-arid Southern California climate.”
The group describes Canary Island pines as pest trees, poorly adapted to the natural conditions of the Lower Arroyo, and a threat to nearby native species.
“The Van de Kamp restoration program is not a landscaping program for a standard urban park. It is a habitat restoration program that is intended to protect nature and upgrade the quality of plants there,” according to the site.
“Habitat restoration is a science that consists of grouping appropriate trees and shrubs in zones that will enhance the natural character and functions of special environmental regions.” the message continues. “It has tremendous benefits for the ecosystem health of the area affected, for the birds, wildlife, and people.”
A non-mandatory pre-bid meeting was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Lower Arroyo Seco. The purpose of the meeting was to answer questions regarding the project plans and, specifications, and review site conditions. Attendees were required to follow COVID-19 safety protocols.