By Austin Dave/SCVNEWS.com
A local forestry unit is taking steps to restore a soon-to-be lost Santa Clarita Valley ecosystem.
(At right, Dave Perry from Supervisor Michael Antonovich's office, L.A. County Asst. Fire Chief Frank Vidales, USDA Conservationist Hudson Minshaw and Battalion 6 Asst. Fire Chief Bill Niccum)
Crews are working to remove invasive weeds from the Bouquet Canyon Creek in order to protect and improve existing urban ecosystems as well as those in danger of expiration.
“Invasive species get into the ecosystem, spread downstream and push out native species,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservationist Hudson Minshew. “Not only do they harm our ecosystem, they cause a lot of infrastructure damage,” he said.
Officials say the project - which launched Fall 2011 - aims to improve watershed, decrease flooding events and reduce fire hazards by removing the nonnative plants.
“This type of arundo usually grows in a riparian area which is typically wet,” said Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Niccum. “This particular species [of weeds] has a tendency to dry out - once it does, it will aid the spread of fire,” he said.
The problematic Bouquet Canyon area officials hope to tackle is prone to seasonal flooding, especially after fires, a problem that land owners and residents in the area are barred from handling.
“We still have dead wood from the last fire that needs to be cleaned out of the creek bed,” said homeowner Don Benson. “Our hands are tied,” he said.
Current laws restrict landowners from interfering with the flow of ecosystem services, referred to as a negative easement.
“The invasive weeds only further complicate the problem,” he added.
Antelope Valley Resource Conversation District representatives say the task will take place on a 3.5 mile stretch of Bouquet Canyon Creek south of the Angeles National Forest and north of the City of Santa Clarita in unincorporated Los Angeles County.
The five-year project is a collaborative effort between the local conservation agencies and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The goal of L.A. County Fire Department is to assist in the arundo abatement and “aid the amphibians and reptiles that reside within the four-acre parcel,” said Assistant Fire Chief Frank Vidales.
Crews plan to influence the return of indigenous species by increasing the amount of plants native to the river, but for now they plan to focus their resources on curbing the weed population.