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Bouquet cleanup measures approved

Posted: March 20, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 20, 2014 2:00 a.m.

The Bouquet Canyon Reservoir supplies nearby residents with much-needed water. Signal photo by Dan Watson.


U.S. Forest Service officials have approved the first of two emergency measures proclaimed by county supervisors last month in an effort to clean up the sediment-filled Bouquet Creek bed and release much-needed water from Bouquet Reservoir, a Los Angeles County spokesman said Wednesday.

Forest Service officials approved a request last week from Los Angeles County to install gates at two points on Bouquet Canyon Road to allow road closures during the cleanup, said Edel Vizcarra, planning deputy for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

Vizcarra said it was the first permits needed in the creek’s cleanup.

County supervisors declared a state of local emergency Feb. 25 for the residents of Bouquet Canyon, paving the way for a speedy cleanup of the creek bed and the release of reservoir water, allowing agencies to bypass costly permits needed to do the job. Because the creek is silted up, it floods the road when substantial water is released from the reservoir.

But without that water release, Bouquet Canyon residents’ downstream wells are drying up. Some residents in the area are entirely without water.

The proclamation calls for the county to install two gates on Bouquet Canyon Road — one at the top and one at the bottom of the canyon. The gates could be closed periodically, allowing the Los Angeles Department of Water and power, which owns the reservior, to reservoir water to replenish the wells without endangering motorists on Bouquet Canyon Road. Road flooding and closure would be the temporary price to pay.

The gates are expected to be set up on the road next week, Vizcarra said.

The county, however, is still waiting for the federal government to sign off on the other permit that would allow its workers to actually clean three culverts on federal land in the Angeles National Forest.

“The U.S. Forest Service still has not granted us a waiver,” Vizcarra said.

County officials, meanwhile, have enlisted the help of Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, in an effort to motivate the federal government to act.

“Congressman McKeon has drafted a letter to the (U.S.) Forest Service,” Vizcarra said Wednesday. “Both of us are now actively urging the Forest Service to grant us permission so that we can go in there to clean the creek bed.”

Federal permits required from the U.S. Forest Service for work to be done in the creek are aimed at protecting “the entire streambed habitat” of endangered species living in it, said Bob Spencer, chief of public affairs for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, in an email to The Signal earlier this month.

Without the permits and the annual cleaning, silt has been allowed to gather inside the creek bed. The buildup of silt was accelerated when the Buckweed Fire raged through the area in 2007, destroying vegetation and sending debris and sediment pouring into the creek.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt


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