A $1.5 million project that will restore an eroded creek at the northern tip of the Arroyo Seco is expected to approved tonight by Pasadena’s governing City Council, much to the delight of local environmentalists who have supported the idea and offered to help the City by supplying and planting native plants.
The Berkshire Creek Improvement Project is expected to upgrade habitat and improve safety to an area eroded and degraded by piping installed decades ago that routed water in an unnatural and destructive pattern.
“The trail has washed away,” said Arroyo Seco Foundation Managing Director Tim Brick. “So they’re going to restore the habitat in the Berkshire Creek area. They’re going to build a bridge for pedestrians and equestrians to get through the area better and they’re going to create a system that will prevent that kind of massive erosion in the future by natural means.”
The Arroyo Foundation could play a big role in the project, as it would supply some 71 native species of plants — about 900 individual plants — to the area through the work of staff and volunteers. Brick said a range of large and small plants and cuttings and seeds, would be installed.
The project would be multi-faceted.
“In another area over there that has sometimes been referred to as the equestrian area, there’s a big asphalt parking lot, so they’re going to take out the asphalt and make the area permeable so that the water will soak into the ground,” Brick said. “And there’ll be better habitat around it. And then also there’s an area south of there, where there’s going to be some habitat restoration on the area. That sunrise outlook area has good habitat on it already, but there’s still some invasive species in there. So we’re going to work with the city in order to remove those.”
Preservation and nature groups are in favor of the project, which will make the area more esthetically pleasing and less dangerous for visitors also.
Brick said he is pleased with the work of Pasadena’s Department of Public Works, which is supervising all of the technical aspects and the construction side of implementation.
But with everything comes a price tag and others like the idea of the project but think the price may be a little out of line.
“Everything that I’ve seen about the project looks like it’s a really good project,” said naturist Christopher Nyerges. “It’s a good beautification. It’s taking it back to a more natural state. I don’t have any objection, but I am always astounded at how much money these things cost.”
Mark Hunter, Conservation Chair of the Pasadena Audobon Society said his group is also in favor of the project.
“This looks like a beneficial project,” he said. “Of course with every construction project there’s a little damage, but we think the benefits exceed the damage. The pipe is at the top of a slope and it’s carving its own canyon. It’s in a place where there was not a natural stream. The pipe will still be there but it will funnel the water into a different channel.”
Hunter said the plantings are vital.
“There’s a trickle in the stream even in the summer and animals rely on that trickle,” Hunter said. “It’s always been a good area for birding. When we get more native plants the species will move back in there and feed and breed in an environment that’s designed for them.”
The project has been discussed for several years and the sooner the area is cleaned up the sooner birds and animals can return, Hunter said.
The lead bidder is United Irrigation Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif. which delivered an estimate of $1.14 million, and the bidder with the second-lowest estimate at $1.37 million, is Wright Construction Engineering Corp of San Marcos, Calif., both in San Diego County.
“There’s a good amount of community support for the Arroyo Foundation,” Hunter said. “He runs the nursery in Hahamonga and that’s going to play a big role; a lot of the native plants will come from that. To get back the native bird population we need native plants.”
Among the important species that are from that area are the Least Bells Vireo, which is a federally endangered species, the Yellow Warbler, and the Yellow Breasted Chat, Hunter said.
“They feed on insects that inhabit those native plants,” he said. “By replacing the exotic plants with native plants it will bring back the birds.”