We are sad to report that significant vegetation has been removed from the sloped banks of Ballona Creek just downstream from Centinela Avenue. As most of you know, this location along the soft bottom tidal estuary has been a special place for volunteers and wildlife. While the vegatation included many non-natives and a few toxic plants like castor bean, it also provided attractive and valuable shelter and shade for birds and fish—and even for lots of hidden trash which was captured by the creekside plants, ready to be collected by our creek cleanup volunteers.
During the October removal, BCR’s Blake Hottle, was on the scene: “I spoke with a worker [with an LA County Public Works crew] and he said that the US Army Corp of Engineers ordered the removal of vegetation to the water line. They are not permitted, he said, to remove plants in the water because that is considered wetlands. He said that the Corp evaluates the dike every five years, and that they had determined that the integrity of the concrete was at risk.”
In addition to the Corps’ routine 5-year review, this removal may also relate to El Nino preparation. In general, vegetation within the concrete channel has been subject to periodic removal to minimize the danger of stormwater being slowed by the vegetation to the point of cresting and flooding the adjoining properties. However, typically that is more a concern further upstream than in the natural bottom tidal estuary, which starts around Centinela. In recent years, the vegetation along the estuary banks largely has been spared. While the remaining vegetation is welcome and beneficial, the sense of loss and destruction remains. Now it appears that only some tall grasses and perhaps some tules remain along with stumps, stubble, and newly exposed trash.
We look forward to ongoing dialog with the Corps, the County, and others about how to best restore and manage appropriate vegetation along the creek while maintaining flood protection. Further upstream, BCR has worked with others to selectively remove invasive or toxic non-native vegetation that was interfering crowding out native plants, overlapping the bike path, or obscuring recently restored murals. We also encourage and endorse Culver City’s periodic removal of vegetation that overlaps the bike path and creates a safety hazard.
For more photos, please visit the Ballona Creek Renaissance Facebook Page.