Thursday, February 25, 2016

Will Pasadena close its Native Plant Nursery?

Xochitl, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly; André Coleman ( UPDATED
Volunteers at the Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery, Hahamongna Watershed Park (ASF)
Nick Hummingbird and local nature lovers fight to keep Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery open
Native Americans: the original Insurgents
A popular local nursery must enter into a new [contractual] agreement to continue using the city-owned site it’s on in Hahamongna Watershed Park by March 23 or vacate the property.
The Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery started two years ago as part of the Arroyo Seco Canyon Project.

The project is a water conservation and habitat enhancement venture aimed at expanding local water supplies from the Arroyo Seco stream and local groundwater, while at the same time improving environmental conditions for fish and the local habitat.
ASF conservation and educational efforts
In January, the Arroyo Seco Foundation (ASF), which operates the nursery program as part of the canyon project, received an eviction notice from former City Manager Michael Beck.

It states that the nursery can operate until March 23, 2016 but will not receive any further city funds despite [the fact that the ASF was granted those funds from another source and handed the more than $3 million grant to Pasadena to distribute back to the project] plans outlined in the Hahamongna Master Plan, which calls for a nursery in the 300-acre waterpark.

  • Volunteer Sunday mornings, 9:00 am (Native Plant Nursery next to the stables between JPL on the north and Tom Sawyer Camp on the south) inside Hahamongna Park, at Oak Grove Dr. & Foothill Bl., Pasadena)
  • Attend emergency meeting at 6:00 pm, Feb. 25th, in the Pasadena City Yards, 233 W. Mountain St., Pasadena and other meetings
  • Spread the word: we need a nursery for local varieties of rare California plants
UPDATE (Feb. 26, 2016)
Chief, we're out of red tape!
Last night's meeting with the City of Pasadena's Advisory Committee at the Pasadena Yard (not a yard but fancy city offices) went long. Many members of the public spoke in favor of maintaining this vital resource. But Commissioners Rita Moreno, Edgar Gutierrez Esq., and board leader Danny Donabedian felt the bureaucracy was too much to overcome and spoke in favor of allowing the Cooperative Nursery disappear. In the end, Commissioner Ciran Marie Hadjian proposed a fourfold plan to save the site. Naysayers whittled it down to a single proposal to allow a short extension, which won the day. So there will be a recommendation to preserve the site, but what the city (Public Works and DWP) decides to do with that recommendation remains up in the air. The apparent stumbling block is a lawsuit that has put the Canyon Project on hold and so the plants cannot be put into the ground and so the city does not want to fund the nursery -- never mind that the plants, if allowed to die, cannot be replaced. These species and varieties are endemic to the area. Nearby plants, such as those from Claremont, Ventura, San Diego, and the Channel Islands, or those that other nurseries have in short supply are not  genetically the same. The plants of Pasadena are unique; they evolved here for this specific environment and are hardy and drought tolerant. Some committee members understood that, but Commissioner Moreno utterly failed to grasp this and simply wanted a bureaucratic termination of all further discussion and a lapse of the project as slated for March 23, 2016. Stay tuned.
Volunteers Plant Coastal Sage Scrub Species
Conservation: volunteers plant endangered local coastal sage scrub species (ASF).
“ASF shall be allowed to hold over and maintain the nursery on city property without additional property through March 23, provided that ASF continues to maintain the plants intended for use on the Arroyo Seco Canyon Project during this time,” Beck wrote.

“All provisions of the contract shall remain in force until March 23 at which time it shall be terminated and ASF must vacate the property unless otherwise authorized and agreed to in writing by the city.”

The LA River is fed by the Arroyo Seco
Leaders with the ASF will hold an emergency meeting at 6:00 pm tonight, Feb. 25, in the Pasadena City Yards, 233 W. Mountain St., Pasadena to discuss the future of the nursery.

“We don’t know why they are trying to remove us,” said Nursery Manager Nick Hummingbird. “We have been trying to have a dialogue with city officials. We have exhausted all efforts.”

“I am very surprised the question of closing the nursery is even being raised,” said ASF Executive Director Tim Brick. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and enhance the Arroyo Seco and its watershed through education, community involvement, improvement projects, and advocacy.
Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery's photo.“It ought to be the role of the city to work with groups like us,” Brick said. “If the nursery closes, it would be a great shame and a very bad reflection on the environmental leadership in Pasadena.”

According to Hummingbird, the city amended its original contract with the ASF and signed onto an agreement allowing the nursery to operate until September.

Most citizens of Los Angeles are unaware of what is in our local foothills.
There really are/were fish in LA waterways.
“We have made it very clear we want to be there long term,” Hummingbird told the Pasadena Weekly. “It’s designated as a native plant nursery and that’s what it’s been. Several hundred volunteers come out weekly to work in the nursery and we offer free classes.”
Over the past two years, hundreds of people have been planting native plants in the area. More than 6,000 plants representing 80 species have been cultivated by volunteers.

Tim "Arroyo Sage" Martinez (
The nursery came about after the ASF received a $3.3 million grant from the state’s Integrated Regional Water Management Program. The Pasadena Department of Water and Power added an additional $8 million to start the Arroyo Seco Canyon Project.

The project later came under fire after a local group filed a lawsuit, claiming it will not make the local water supply any safer or more drinkable. According to them, the site has been polluted by perchlorate coming out of the nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Hahamongna Watershed is now dammed below the polluting JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab).
Decolonize Your Diet (Calvo/Esquibel)
No one disputes that perchlorate was dumped there, but advocates for the plan say there has been massive cleanup effort over the past several years and the water poses no threat to park goers or city water customers. That lawsuit is now holding up the project and threatening the nursery.

“Those plants grow back on their own,” said Leeona Klippstein, co-founder of the Spirit of the Sage Council, a coalition of environmental organizations dedicated to conserving wildlife and land which is suing the city over the project.

“No one needs to plant anything. The seeds are still there. They have been there for hundreds of years,” Klippstein said. “This is not a restoration plan. They want to build a new parking lot [at JPL] and a new dam. The bottom line is they want the state money and the nursery is just another way to get that money.”

Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery's photo.
Endemic plants are irreplaceable if lost.
Brick disagrees with those claims and says the nursery is a needed resource in the region.

“The nursery represents a tremendous asset to the city and the region,” said Brick. “We took an abandoned facility that was neglected for 20 years and turned it into a gem. With any era of drought or climate change we need to be looking at using native plants more to enhance the landscaping of Southern California. Local nurseries don’t really produce enough of that type of vegetation.”

Mayor Terry Tornek said the city is not trying to end the good work being done by the nursery.

Volunteers plant native Pasadena oak tree species in Hahamongna Watershed Park (WQ).
Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery's photo.“It’s a strange turn of events,” Tornek said. “The nursery was established to grow the material for the [Arroyo Seco Canyon] Project, but the project is held up because of the litigation. Michael Beck’s letter is not a, ‘we hate you get out’ letter. It’s just a notification.

“Nobody thinks the nursery is a bad idea. Nobody is attempting to give them the bum’s rush,” Tornek said.
“The big question is who should maintain the use of the nursery? Should it be the Arroyo Seco Foundation? Should they be a permanent tenant at that location?”

The ASF operated a nursery out of the abandoned site twice before, including stints in cooperation with the US Forest Service in 1990 and 2009. The Hahamongna Annex Master Plan, which includes the city’s plans for an additional 30 acres purchased from the Metropolitan Water District in 2005, calls for a nursery that functions like the current ASF operation.

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the U.S.
“The native plant nursery co-op will provide facilities for the propagation and growing of native plants species and promote horticultural education with a particular focus on the restoration of the natural plant communities of the Arroyo Seco,” the plan reads.
“The nursery co-op will provide a plant lab, native plant germination green house facilities, growing beds and exterior space for nursery purposes.”
Hahamongna got its name from the Native American Tongva people who lived in the Arroyo Seco hundreds of years ago.

According to Tongva [the Native American tribe that lived in Los Angeles before Anglo invasion resulted in displacement and a massive genocide] myth, a coyote challenged the river to a race. After running as fast as he could, the coyote managed to beat the rushing water, then collapsed from fatigue.

The river then roared by with laughter, taking the name “Hahamongna,” a word which in Tongva means flowing water, fruitful valley. Even now, at the falls above Devil’s Gate Dam, one can supposedly hear the river laughing.

The property was sold to the Metropolitan Water District in 1970 for $490,000 with a stipulation that its usage must support open space and recreation. Then, in 2005, MWD sold the land back to the city for $1.2 million after the agency admitted that it had no plans to use it

Preservationists, including members of the Spirit of the Sage Council, have fought to keep the area in its natural state.

Devil's Gate, Arroyo , pre-1920 dam
In 2003, the city adopted the Hahamongna Watershed Park Master Plan, which lays out the city’s vision for the open space that extends from Devil’s Gate Dam to the north into Arroyo Seco Canyon.

“It’s been in the master plan for 10 years to have a nursery there,” Brick said. “I am shocked they have not been more helpful to us. If there is a process, we need to work through it. If there is not, I wish they had told us two years ago.” More
'With Spring pretty much here, the nursery is vibrant and alive.'

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