Plan to “fast track” Bouquet Creek repairs turns two years old


A plan to turn a closed-down U.S. Forest Service campground into an “environmental classroom” in an effort to fast track county repairs to Bouquet Canyon Road is still at the discussion stage two years after it was introduced.

In January 2015, U.S. Forest Service officials devised a plan to remedy the gridlock involving at least four different government agencies that was created when Bouquet Creek became “silted-up” with sediment due to normal stream flow and heavy debris from wildfires washed into the creek.

When asked this week about the status of that plan, U.S. Forestry Service officials referred all comment to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

Two years ago, Bob Blount, district ranger for the Angeles National Forest in the Santa Clarita Valley area, came up with a plan to restore creekside habitat and water flow in Bouquet Creek as a way of protecting the endangered unarmored threespine stickleback fish.

Blount suggested transforming the Zuni Campground into an “environmental classroom” which would provide easy access to dirt-removal work permits. The work would include cleaning, removing or replacing the existing culvert on the campground access road.

That was the plan.

Next month, however, marks two full years of inactivity, with not a single shovel put in the ground since the plan was unveiled.

“The former Zuni campground has been identified as one of the potential locations for that effort,” Gary Hildebrand, deputy director of the county’s public works department, said Thursday.

“The County’s proposal is still in development through a rigorous environmental review process that includes feedback from the public and comments from state and federal regulatory agencies.

“Any work within areas identified as habitat for the unarmored threespine stickleback will be the result of that carefully-considered, collaborative process,” he said.

Silt buildup along Bouquet Canyon Road prompted concerns about road safety among county officials who, subsequently, decided to close the road in late October as a precautionary move, and to leave it closed until April.

Intense opposition to the road closure, however, helped convince public works officials to rethink the closure.

open the road to traffic with the advisory they would shut it down in the event of rain or the forecast of rain.

U.S. Forest Service officials first unveiled a plan to repair Bouquet Creek by “unbraiding” the damage caused by floods eight years ago.

The Santa Clara River is the stickleback’s home. It lives primarily in tributaries that feed into the river, one of them being Bouquet Creek.

A series of wildfires in 2007, coupled with the heavy rains of 2004 and 2005, converted a section of the Bouquet Creek near Texas Canyon from a single meandering channel of water into a “braided stream.”

Rangers in 2009 identified the need to “un-braid” the stream and return it to its natural configuration.

“This is a highly endangered species, so it’s important to we restore its habitat,” said Stanton Florea, a spokesman for the Forest Service of the Angeles National Forest in 2009.

“If the creek is restored and the habitat improved, this will allow it an area to reproduce,” he said at the time.

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