Arroyo Seco Foundation
April 8, 2010
As a local environmental advocate in Altadena, I have had many and varied and ongoing interactions with the Arroyo Seco Foundation over the years. I will just mention a few of the most notable here.
When I began trying to stir up greater consciousness for environmental concerns in our community in 2004, I was told by the then-chair of the Altadena Town Council: "The watershed is NOT an issue in Altadena." This attitude was so disturbing that we started up an ad hoc group, The Altadena Watershed Committee. The Arroyo Seco Foundation was extremely supportive, and sent its watershed coordinator Jeff Chapman to monthly meetings to help us develop a mission and programs. We offered a free and well-attended educational program at the Community Center, where Chapman was one of our featured speakers.
Our next project, a waterwise demonstration pocket park on the southwest corner of Woodbury Road and Marengo Avenue took a three years to realize, and the Arroyo Seco Foundation remained an active partner (along with other nonprofits, the Metropolitan Water District, and County government ) in attaining this goal. Old Marengo Park, now growing in and beautiful, is a wonderful example of drought tolerant landscaping and a testament to the power of concerned citizens and groups working together. About 25,000 motorists drive by it every day, and the Arroyo Seco Foundation continued as an active partner over the years it took to raise money for, and then to build the park.
The Arroyo Seco's lobbying efforts to fund the Army Corps of Engineers study of the the Arroyo Seco have been ongoing and largely successful. Only an organization with persistence and a sufficiently large view to advocate for this watershed as one entity has had the vision to keep pushing for this study. I became tangentially involved when asked, along with ASF's Exec. Director Tim Brick, to supply testimony to Congress supporting this activity.
Another area where I witnessed ASF's effectiveness on behalf of this watershed was in its bid to stop housing from coming in to the last developable land in the Arroyo Seco at an army reserve site underneath the bridge leading into Pasadena. Instead, ASF advocated for a small nature education center and restoration of the rest of the land back to native habitat. Although not an unmitigated success, ASF's view that low-income housing was a most unsuitable use for this public land prevailed. Ultimate resolution of what it will be used for when the land reverts from federal to city ownership remains open, but ASF has laid groundwork for the possible implementation of its more public-spirited and nature-friendly plan in the future.
Another key experience with ASF was with a still to be resolved public project. The Woodbury Corridor, which marks the boundary between Altadena and Pasadena from Lake Avenue west, is for most of its course an ugly, asphalted 8-12 foot wide median strip. The dream is to turn this into a bio-swale of drought tolerant plantings, and catchment for storm runoff which would slow peak flow and prevent millions of gallons of water from wastefully flowing into the ocean. Because Altadena's Watershed Committee is not a 501-c3 organization, it did not have standing to list this potential project in the IRWMP (Integrated Regional Water Management Program) process. ASF entered the project on the list, which puts it in line for consideration for state funding as it becomes available.
So to sum up, ASF fills a crucial regional need in advocating for the Arroyo Seco Watershed, a precious resource that runs from mountain wilderness through a varied and vulnerable urban landscape with numerous and often-conflicting jurisdictions. The only constructive feedback I can offer is that a larger and more involved board with representation from all communities within the Watershed would strengthen its position, and ability to identify potential projects to benefit the whole.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Old Marengo Park
Army Reserve Project
Army Corps of Engineers Project
Woodbury Corridor Project
Hahamonga Watershed Park
Eaton's Water film project
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
Create a national model for what can be done to restore an urban watershed.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every six months
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Professional with expertise in this field & I covered this in the "Your Experience" box.