The Meaning of Hahamongna

The original settlers of the region were sometimes called the Hahamongna Indians. The word means "Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley" in the native Tongva language.

Hahamongna News

Title:

Environmental Advocates Unsatisified With County Task Force on Hahamongna and Arcadia Woodlands

Subtitle:

Date:

2011-02-04

Author:

Dan Abendschein

Publication:

Altadena Patch

Content:

After the removal of 11 acres of oak trees in the Arcadia Woodlands, the immediate focus for environmental advocates has been trying to prevent a similar fate for trees in the Altadena-adjacent Hahamongna Watershed Park.

With local advocates participating in a task force that was created after the county removed the Arcadia oaks, they had hoped they would have a chance to influence the county's plan to empty sediment from the Devil's Gate Dam in Hahamongna.

That plan could result in the removal of 15 acres of black willow trees, and a total of 50 acres of sediment area, and could mean three years of heavy removal work involving trucks hauling 300-400 loads of sediment out of the park per day.

So far, those advocates say that the task force appears more likely to focus on long-term issues rather than changing the Hahamongna plan, which according to the county's preliminary plan, could go into action next September.

"I was told that we don't want to talk about what happened in Arcadia, we don't want to address Hahamongna," said Mary Barrie, of the Friends of Hahamongna non-profit group. "We were asked to brainstorm ideas for the long-term plan of removing sediment from county dams."

Tim Martinez, a 22-year-old Pasadena resident and college student who attended the meeting, said that he was happy that county officials were willing to listen to environmental activists.

"Some of it was good," Martinez said. "They were really open to respecting people's ideas on the subject."

But Martinez also got the sense that the county's objective is not to make any changes to sediment removal projects in the near term like the Devil's Gate Dam project.

"What I find discouraging is the the more immediate projects like Hahamongna, which is really what I and a lot of people are most interested about, we really won't have very much say about what happens," Martinez said. "I'm convinced the county will do as they please."

Kerjon Lee, a spokesman for the County Department of Public Works, which is leading the task force, said he hopes people will remember the process has just gotten started.

"I'm disappointed to hear that some people aren't that happy with the process so far," Lee said. "But it's just the beginning."

He said that at future meetings he expects that local advocates will get a chance to look at specific plans like the one in Hahamongna, and offer suggestions for modifying them.

"With only two hours it's hard to cover all the material people want to cover," Lee said. "There will be meetings in the future where there will be ample time to delve into those specific plans."

At the same time, while department officials are trying to look forward to future plans, some advocates believe that there still needs to be a discussion of what went wrong in Arcadia.

"DPW did not bring up how or whether they have been following the letter and intent of environmental rules and regulations and what they might do differently in the future," wrote South Pasadena activist Barbara Eisenstein in a blog post on the task force. "As such, I can only assume that they felt they did everything right in Arcadia. If this is the case then the meeting was not something I needed to attend. Without acknowledging the mistakes made, there is no way forward."

If there was one thing positive to come out of the meeting it was the chance to meet officials at other departments who were critical of the county's plan in Arcadia, said Lori Paul, an Altadena environmentalist.

Paul and several others noted that a Fish and Game official, as well as a Regional Water Control board official, showed up to discuss the plan in Arcadia, with both saying their offices were not consulted about it.

"Without the meeting those were people we probably would never have heard from," Paul said.

In addition to participating in the task force, many of the same environmental advocates are working to build a local environmental coalition- nearly 60 people met last weekend to discuss how to get more public involvement in issues like Hahamongna.