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Forestry Committee to Hear Habitat Restoration Tree Removal Plan Today

Published on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 | 2:48 pm
 
Lower Arroyo Seco. Photo courtesy Arroyo Seco Foundation

The Urban Forestry Advisory Committee (UFAC) will hear details of a plan to remove 72 non-native trees in the Lower Arroyo Seco as part of a habitat restoration project.

“The removal of the subject non-native trees, woody plants [such as tree tobacco and tree of heaven], and perhaps pampas grass is necessary to meet the project criteria for restoration,” according to a city staff report. The intention of restoration, according to the report “is to reestablish the physical and biological characteristics of the Arroyo Seco’s native habitats to a natural state void of invasive, non-native plants.”

The project includes the removal of 106 non-native plants and the removal of 11 dead trees.

In total, 82 of the trees are considered non-mature based on the diameter of the trunks as established by the UFAC, and 13 require full or partial removal due to safety concerns. Boulders and rocks will be placed in the five-acre area to serve as natural barriers, along with logs and branches removed from trees.

The Public Works Department is willing to save some of the trees and is hoping a consensus can be reached on those.

According to the report, the proposed removal of non-native species is a core component of habitat restoration.

“The removals create open areas to allow the native plant species of the region to re-establish themselves,” the staff report reads. “As these plants establish mature propagate, the habitat is restored for the local native wildlife and improves the ecosystem health in the area.”

The bridge, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, was closed for renovation in 2015 and reopened on June 24, 2017, with a dedication to former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp, a Pasadena native who died on March 14 of that year.

In 2017, the scope of the La Loma Bridge Rehabilitation Project did not include the restoration of habitat in the area surrounding the bridge after the work was completed.

The restoration work is expected to go before the City Council for bids by December. Local residents have expressed concerns about outreach and maintenance of the area after the work is completed.

The project was created utilizing Proposition A grant funds and residential impact fees as part of the city’s Capital Improvement Programs (CIP) 2020-24.
As part of the project, 14 California black walnut trees will be planted along with 11 coast live oak trees and 17 western sycamore trees. Some 2,000 plants and shrubs will also be planted.

A community Zoom meeting with Councilman Steve Madison’s office is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17.

A Zoom meeting was held last week on the matter.

According to information released at that meeting, Public Works will seek approval of a contract in November for Psomas to do the development, requiring City Council approval.
The project must be entirely finished and paid for by March 31 or the parks grant will lapse and its money must be refunded. Nearly all of the new plants will be in one-gallon containers. Sycamores and Walnuts can take around 10 years to become well established.

Public Works is willing to save some of the existing trees, and it hopes some consensus can be reached on which ones to set aside. The principal engineer will host walking tours of the trees to be removed. Interested persons can contact him to sign up.

Once the new plants are in, money from the residential impact fee source can be used for maintenance. After that, new city funding will be needed.

The project has been endorsed by the Arroyo Seco Foundation and the Pasadena Casting Club. Last week, the Recreation and Parks Commission endorsed the project.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at us02web.zoom.us/j/851810136720

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