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:

Striking a balance, naturally

Subtitle:

City begins restoration projects in Arroyo Seco

Date:

2006-09-04

Author:

Cortney Fielding Staff Writer

Publication:

Pasadena Star-News

Content:

PASADENA - Making nature - or what passes for nature in city parks - both user-friendly for humans and sustainable for plants and animals isn't an easy task. But Pasadena is looking to accomplish the goal anyway throughout the Arroyo Seco, where several restoration projects are in full swing.

Work crews are clearing three new hiking trails and refurbishing nine existing ones in the upper, central and lower regions of the Arroyo, including the Brookside and Hahamongna park regions.

Meanwhile, the city is gearing up to start construction on a $1.5 million bridge over Flint Canyon that will connect the east side of the Arroyo with the west. A multiuse trail for pedestrians, horses and bikers will follow.

And in Hahamongna Park behind Devil's Gate Dam, plans are under way for everything from athletic-field restoration to a new scenic viewpoint to replace the existing, traffic-ridden Sunset Overlook.

"There's just a lot of great stuff going on in the Arroyo," said Tim Brick, managing director at the Arroyo Seco Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to preservation of the watershed. "A real vision is emerging."

The projects are the result of Pasadena's recently completed Arroyo Master Plan, which pinpointed desired improvements in the area. The work is being largely funded through a series of federal, state and county grants. "We've been aggressively going after quite a lot of grant funding," said Rosa Laveaga, the city's Arroyo Seco supervisor.

But while creating a more appealing experience for people, Pasadena is also charged with protecting natural plant and animal habitats - and fixing past damage.

These two seemingly opposite goals have always presented a challenge, said Jason Pelletier, director of production at North East Trees, a nonprofit that has done extensive restoration work in the Arroyo.

"The Arroyo is an incredible, valuable asset. It's incredibly well-loved and used," he said. "We're trying to improve public access while protecting very fragile environmental re- sources - its all about trying to find the right balance."

Pelletier believes that balance can be achieved.

But the growing number of invasive grasses, plants and trees - brought to the area by humans - are destroying native vegetation and depleting the animal population.

Aggressive invaders such as castor beans and trees of heaven are common offenders. "They have a tendency to push out the native vegetation,"he said.

So along the way, the nonprofit group is helping Pasadena rid its grounds of parasitic plants and replace them with indigenous species, including willows, sycamores and oak trees, as well as key plants such as native sage.

And around trails in the lower Arroyo, North East is planting vegetation to fill up open spaces that have left little room for animals to roam without encountering human obstacles.

While construction can disrupt habitats, the city workers try to minimize harm by staying clear of work in the late spring and early summer nesting months. It also employs biologists to make sure no trails are placed in the middle of habitat areas.

Ultimately, "We have to accept that people are going to use the Arroyo" with the attendant environmental costs that brings, Laveaga said. But by creating new trails and enhancing older ones, she said the city might be able will keep humans from wandering too far from the beaten path, disturbing what they have come to enjoy. "We want to enhance our environment, while doing what is really realistic," she said.

cortney.fielding@sgvn.com

(626) 578-6300