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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Arcadia Weekly / Arcadia Woodland Supporters Plead to County Board of Supervisors for Invesitgation Re: destruction of over 200 trees and sensitive ecosystem in Arcadia

Arcadia Woodland Supporters Plead to County Board of Supervisors for Invesitgation Re: destruction of over 200 trees and sensitive ecosystem in Arcadia

by Terry Miller
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Photos by Terry Miller

By Terry Miller

Michael D Antonovich listened carefully to what Glen Owens and other concerned citizens and environmentalists had to say Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles at the Board of Supervisor meeting.

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors was asked to conduct a full and Independent Investigation regarding the destruction of 11 Acres of pristine woodlands in Arcadia last Wednesday. However, despite claims that the County has no investigative arm in the county, it seems Antonovitch got the message loud and clear Tuesday afternoon.
The founding members of the alliance which has tried desperately to save the 200 plus Oak and Sycamore trees that were bulldozed last week were in attendance Cameron Stone, Christle Balvin and Glen Owens in addition to tree sitters Andrea Bowers and Julia Posin adressed the board eloquently and with deep passion for what they believe is a tragedy.
These individuals who have spent countless hours and plenty of their own money fighting Public Works and the Board of Supervisors in a valiant effort to protect them from execution and subsequently some were arrested for their civil disobedience when they went into the trees last week.
John Quigley prepered not to appear before the supervisors but Julia Posin and Andrea Bowers described their harrowing experiences and pleaded with the county for some information.
The fight to save the trees from the county bulldozers had been long and hard for the people of Arcadia and surrounding areas and it still is not over regardless of the fact that the county proceeded with the trees destruction.

Beacon Media News and Channel 5 KTLA were the first to interview and witness the release of three of the four tree sitters last Thursday afternnon. On hand to hug and thank (and post bail if need be for the environmentalists) was actress Daryl Hannah whose is perhaps best known for not only her popular movies but is also as an ardent environmentalist.
A day long standoff between four environmentally concerned tree sitters and public works, crews ended peacefully according to Posin but the clearing of hundreds of trees was a great cost environmentally.” I think they could have found an alternative solution,” she added.
Public works officials say the 11 acres of trees, some of them more than 100 years old, had to be removed to ensure the integrity of a nearby dam that provides most of the drinking water to the Los Angeles suburbs of Arcadia and Sierra Madre. By nightfall, authorities said most of the trees had been removed.
At least 179 coastal oaks and about 70 sycamores were uprooted and left for the next phase of the project last Thursday. Beacon Media was escorted around the desecrated 11 acres by Public Works Mike Kaspar about an hour after three of the protestors were released from jail.
The naked forest was truly an eye opener with limbs of trees in every direction. In one of the former sycamore groves we could see an active bee hive with fresh honey combs clearly visible.
Actress Daryl Hannah said she learned of the protests regarding the Arcadia Woodlands from Quigley, whom she has known since she took part in a tree-sitting protest to try to save an urban garden in a Los Angeles in 2006.
Hannah, like other environmental activists, said the sediment from the Dam could be placed elsewhere, including a huge gravel pit about 10 miles away in Irwindale.
Los Angeles County Public Works spokesman Bob Spencer said the tree removal project has been in the works for three years and the county has approval from federal and state agencies. He said it must done for the Santa Anita Dam, which was built in 1927, to meet seismic safety standards.
Clearing the 11 acres of oaks and sycamores will create a placement area the sediment can be channeled to. Spencer said the dam provides 75 percent of the drinking water used in Arcadia, a city of 80,000 people, and all of the drinking water for Sierra Madre with a population of 10,000.
Julia Posin said at one point “They were pulling branches off trees with chainsaws and bulldozing the trunks. Startled birds did not know where to go in the chaos. We were scared”
“I started to cry in the tree, the forest that had taken a century to create was demolished in a matter of hours.”
Backed by environmental groups such like the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society, concerned community members pleaded with Los Angeles County flood control and Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich to find an alternative to destroying 11 acres of pristine woodland.
Many blame on the Arcadia Highland Homeowners Assn., which allegedly represents over 800 residents for not supporting alternative plans.
The department said it had been ordered by state dam safety officials to expedite dredging sediment from the 83-year-old dam above the site of the destroyed trees, which does not meet seismic safety standards.
Many supporters and environmentalists felt abandoned by the Arcadia homeowners’ association.
“The association was deceived by public works officials who gave them a scary choice,” neighborhood activist Cam Stone said.
A relieved and tired Julia Posin, 23, said she was happy to be out of jail last Thursday and that she really wanted to get something to eat and have a shower.
“It is not a very nice place in there” she said. Julia was the first to be released then Andrea Bowers and finally John Quigley.

“You took our trees, but don’t take the public’s right to know?” Glen Owens told Michael D Antonovich Tuesday in Los Angeles. Owens pointed out that while as tragic as it is to lose the 200 plus trees, the loss of the public’s right to know could then become a Federal issue.
Owens said they made some “Big Points” and that he had a “gut feeling” that Antonovich would do something in way of an investigation. This was confirmed by Tony Bell, a spokesman for Antonovich’s office when he placed a call to Owens.
“The supervisor doesn’t want another Station Fire incident” Owens saidd in a telephone interview just after he returned from a grueling day in Los Angeles. The group, originally scheduled to speak at 9AM didn’t get to speak until after 1pm.
Owens and other concerned citizens and environmental groups are convinced the County Pulic Works and Flood Control deliberately decieved neighbors of the 11 acres destroyed last week and demand a full investigation.
While Antonovich claims there is no “investigative arm” to do such things, the public’s right to know is important. It seems “The Pressure is On – I Really think I got to him” Owens said.

In a ‘phone interview Wednesday morning witth the Arcadia Weekly, Owens said …”I think I finally got it…” referring to how the citizens might have prevented such a devastating outcome.
Owens said that the Flood Control is “Autocratic and has a position of power and hesitant to negotiate.”
This has been the key issue from the beginning, according to many who were trying to save the 11 acres of pristine woodland.
“This was caused by Flood Control’s lack of honest and meaningful discussion on the issue.” Owens said. “We tried repeatedly to meet with Flood Control, but they refused.”
“I’m really sick over this,” Owens continued “part of the puzzle I figured out was the height limitation. I think we could have stopped this is we’d had honest discussions with Flood Control and if they had not used outdated and outmoded engineering.”

The remains of 200 plus trees bulldozed by County Public Works last week in Arcadia - Photo by Terry Miller


Owens said that Flood Control “ Never had the will to save the trees.” He added that we could learn from nature with proper land form grading.
When asked what he thought of the supervisors plan to spend $650,000 to “re-vegitate” part of the destroyed woodland, Owens said “ Re-habitation with Native vegetation “ should be what the county should be planning.
Glen Owens concluded the telephone interview by saying: “People can plant trees, but only God can plant an eco-sytem.”

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