The State Wildlife Conservation Board on Aug. 24 unanimously approved $12 million to be allocated from its general fund toward creating habitat enhancement and restoration projects for aquatic species in Bouquet Canyon Creek.
The Bouquet Canyon Creek Recovery Project Planning only involves the feasibility and planning studies for possible future actions. The grant is for the planning, design and environmental compliance. This would develop numerous “shovel-ready” implementation projects.
According to the report from the board meeting, the applicant, Los Angeles County Public Works, with full design documents and environmental documents and permits, would be in the position to organize construction bids and engage a contractor for the construction.
The project would be located along approximately 8 miles of Bouquet Canyon Creek, as it runs through Bouquet Canyon from below Bouquet Reservoir to where the creek enters the urban area of Santa Clarita. This stretch is located within the Angeles National Forest. Bouquet reservoir is owned and operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Habitat enhancement and restoration projects for the endangered unarmored threespine stickleback, a small fish, are the primary focus. These will also benefit other rare, threatened and endangered riparian and aquatic species that inhabit Bouquet Canyon, according to the board report.
The project is also set to increase the water supply, provide sediment management and conveyance, provide flood protection of the adjacent road and increase public access to multiple day-use areas and trails.
The approved funds are broken down by project tasks as follows:
- Project management and coordination: Provide technical and administrative services associated with performing and completing the work for the project, awarded $34,000 by the Wildlife Conservation Board.
- Working group and public outreach: Working group meetings to engage stakeholder agencies and community outreach/engagement meetings, awarded $196,000 by the WCB.
- Preliminary design: Preliminary design includes data collection and additional modeling, and feasibility and conceptual design for stream, road and watershed improvements, awarded $1.8 million by the WCB.
- Design (30-60-90-100): Development of 30, 60, 90 and 100% designs for future implementation projects, awarded $5.94 million by the WCB and $2.49 million from non-WCB funds.
- Environmental Approvals: California Environmental Quality Act, National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental permits, awarded $2.89 million by the WCB.
- Long-term monitoring, maintenance and management: Develop a long-term monitoring and adaptative management plan that will focus on habitat improvements developed in this project, awarded $107,000 by the WCB.
- Contingency: Unanticipated project costs associated with WCB-funded tasks only, requires WCB staff approval prior to use, awarded $1 million by the WCB.
Eight letters of support for the project were received and none were received in opposition.
Those in support of the project included: Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, Roman Torres, a forest supervisor with the Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Adam Perez with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Stephen L. Cole, assistant general manager of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency, Rick Viergutz, chair of the Upper Santa Clara River Regional Water Management Group, and Maria Gutzeit, board president of the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency.
“Bouquet Canyon Creek runs parallel to Bouquet Canyon Road, which is used as a commuter route as well as a primary means of access for multiple, neighboring communities,” wrote Barger in her letter of support addressed to John P. Donnelly, executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Board. “Major storms have caused large sediment loads to deposit along the creek. This has resulted in frequent flooding of Bouquet Canyon Road, creating hazardous road conditions and significantly restricted access.”
“Additionally, flow releases from Bouquet Reservoir have been reduced, which has adversely affected water delivery to downstream users dependent on this water source. The high sediment loads and the reduced flow releases have also resulted in the loss of prime habitat for the state fully protected and federally endangered unarmored threespine stickleback.”
Barger added: “I strongly believe that all aspects of this restoration project will be greatly beneficial to creating a more healthy watershed and community.”