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


Temporary 'toadal' ban on dumping debris at Johnson Field





Janette Williams, Staff Writer


Pasadena Star-News


One of the many common Western toads to be found at Johnson Field, near JPL in Pasadena on Monday. Before the Devil's Gate Dam debris spreading project
can continue, the toads, which invaded the field after heavy rains flooded it, must depart. (Walt Mancini Staff Photographer)

PASADENA - Breeding toads in Johnson Field have caused a temporary hold on the county's Department of Public Works plan to bury it - and the toads - under about 25,000 cubic yards of sediment taken from behind Devil's Gate Dam.

The field was approved by the city earlier this year as a temporary holding ground for debris from a small-scale emergency flood-control project.

But this year's heavy rains made areas of the waterlogged field "perfect for the toads," said Dan Rix, Pasadena's city engineer. So until the land dries out and the toads move on, Rix said, none of the debris from the dam's face will be spread over the former softball field near Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"We believe by August or September all the toads will have found new areas, some
moisture, shade or whatever, and we wouldn't have a problem," Rix said.

The request to check out the population of toads and other amphibians attracted to the saturated field came a few months ago at a City Council meeting, Rix said.

"We asked the county to get their biologist out to see what was there, and there was a large number of toads," Rix said.

Although the Common Western Toad is not a protected species, "We didn't want to go in there for the project without waiting until the toads left on their own," he said.

Work on spreading the debris was scheduled to begin earlier this month.

When the dirt finally is spread, it will stay while an environmental impact report is being prepared on a major project to clear 1.6 million cubic yards of
sediment from Devil's Gate Dam - an estimated one to two years.

The county flood-control project in the Hahamongna Watershed Park above Pasadena - which was due to start in September - originally got an emergency exemption from California Environmental Quality Act requirements after record amounts of Station Fire debris washed in during the winter storms of 2009-2010.

The proposed project would allow for all the debris, including the sediment on Johnson Field, to be trucked out of the out of the area using a route yet to be decided, Rix said.

Organic material collected from around the dam will not be spread, but will be trucked out immediately, using a route that exits on Windsor Avenue, Rix said.

"Right now that's the only one of the alternative that works," he said. "It will be a small amount (of truck trips) compared to the overall project."

DPW spokesman Bob Spencer said earlier that safety continues to be an issue at Devil's Gate, which was built in the Arroyo Seco in 1920 as the county's first flood control dam.

The amount of sediment in the dam, which was last cleaned out in 1993, doubled after the Station Fire, when an estimated 936,000 cubic yards of debris was deposited, Spencer said.

Some local environmentalists, including Lori Paul, a member of the Urbanwild Network, have suggested that the county "put a value on sediment," and look for permanent solutions to debris removal other than dumping it on public works-owned land or trucking it to landfills.

The network grew from unsuccessful efforts to save 11 acres of county-owned native oak woodland in Arcadia razed to spread sediment from Santa Anita and other local dams.

Paul said balancing flood control, environmental, recreational and wildlife concerns is not easy.

"It's a conundrum," she said. "The situation in Hahamongna is, it's a flood-control dam and a sediment catch basin. But it's a wildlife habitat and a trail hub. It's a floor wax and a dessert topping," she joked, referring to a classic Saturday Night Live skit.