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:

Officials rethink Hahamongna plans

Subtitle:

Proposal to fill park's marshy lowlands is abandoned.

Date:

2012-10-21

Author:

Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com

Publication:

Pasadena Sun

Content:

Controversial plans for a new soccer field and other changes to the landscape of Hahamongna Watershed Park may be headed back to the drawing board.

Pasadena officials are putting the brakes on an environmental review of Hahamongna projects after abandoning an unpopular proposal to fill in acres of marshy lowlands subject to seasonal flooding, said city Department of Public Works project manager Loren Pluth.

Pasadena City Council members will decide as early as Oct. 29 whether to start over with a new study of remaining proposals for the 300-acre park above Devil’s Gate Dam.

Work funded by $5.7 million in grant proceeds would include stream restoration, trail repair, a new soccer field adjacent to an existing one on the west side of the park and an expanded parking lot to serve both fields.

The decision not to elevate grounds along the western edge of the basin behind Devil’s Gate came after the city and the Arroyo Seco Foundation received a $3.2 million state grant to improve groundwater collection and restore natural areas in a canyon above NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Hahamongna projects were expected to break ground in early 2014, around the same time Los Angeles County officials hope to start removing as much as 4 million cubic yards of sediment from behind Devil’s Gate. Currently under environmental review, the dig would impact up to 50 acres of the park.

County workers excavated 13,000 cubic yards of sediment from around the face of the dam in 2011 to prevent water-release valves from becoming clogged with mud that washed down from hillsides after the 2009 Station fire burned 160,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest.

Crews returned last week to clear another 4,000 cubic yards of dirt and plant debris that had piled up against the dam over the past year, said L.A. County Department of Public Works spokesman Kerjon Lee.

Sediment from the past two digs was temporarily stockpiled at Johnson Field, a defunct groundwater recovery basin in the north end of the park. Plant material was left there to dry out and will be hauled away to Scholl Canyon Landfill in the coming weeks at a rate of no more than 10 truckloads per day, Lee said.

The city’s now-stalled environmental review process began in July. Public meetings drew some 140 people, many of them speaking out against the new soccer field and filling in low-lying areas.

“The area they were going to raise is an important riparian stream-zone, a wetlands kind of habitat that’s very productive for birds and bugs and other wildlife,” said Tim Brick, director of Arroyo Seco Foundation.

During the review process, officials came to agree that filling in soggy ground, which they had sought to replace with woodlands, “looked pretty invasive, rather than beneficial,” said Pluth.

But Pluth also said the new study is likely to retain plans for a soccer field, which some preservationists say would be just as harmful to the park.

Laura Garrett, who leads conservation efforts by the Pasadena Audubon Society, said clearing brush for a sports field could displace an endangered species of bird discovered in the park earlier this year.

Audubon members reported seeing a pair of least bell’s vireo, a small songbird native to Southern California but pushed to the brink of extinction by habitat loss, in July and August on land adjacent to where the new soccer field would be installed.

Garrett said the two migratory birds appeared to be a mother and juvenile, suggesting the species had begun nesting or breeding in the area. Sightings were reported to the state Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“The very best thing that can happen to Hahamongna is nothing,” said Garrett.

But Pluth said a new environmental review would take the birds and other community concerns into account.

“We’re starting over, but from a point of greater knowledge. We can address some of these things now, rather than wait until the end of the process,” he said.