Eaton Wash Corridor Trail

On July 29th I attended a public meeting concerning the Eaton Wash Corridor Plan. There were about 25-30 people attending, counting the presenters.  The meeting was opened by Marc Stirdivant of the Arroyo and Foothills Conservancy.   There is a lot of overlap between their board and the Altadena Crest Trail (ACT) Restoration WorkingGroup.  Marc introduced the planning group by noting that they had previously worked on the Emerald Horseshoe Concept Plan for the Conservancy while they were graduate students at Cal Poly Pomona.  This is a massive document which shows that the planners should be very familiar with local conditions.  To boil over 100 pages down to a sentence, the concept is to have continuous trails and green space from the Arroyo Seco on the west up to and across Altadena following the ACT to Eaton Canyon, then down Eaton Wash to the Rio Hondo.  Here is a link to the main part of their report, which loads a bit slow being 20 MB:

Robin, Holly, and Jennifer, who now have their own planning firm, explained the purpose of the meeting and noted that SoCalEd had given the Conservancy a grant to pay for the planning process.  This meeting and a similar one in Rosemead was intended to gather suggestions from the community that they would incorporate into their draft plan, which would be commented on at the next set of meetings.  The trail would cross 5 cities (Pasadena, Temple City, San Gabriel, Rosemead, and El Monte) plus unincorporated County areas. Pasadena is not directly participating in the current process.  Pasadena’s plan will be based on the earlier study and is intended to be compatible with the current one.

The County already has a right of way and most of the way there is a maintenance road on both sides.  County Flood Control appears to be the lead agency for the land, with Public Works supporting them. The original proposal (Emerald Horseshoe) included a bike path on one side and hiking/equestrian on the other.  The important issue of funding to construct any features that would be necessary and to maintain a usable trail was not addressed.

A question came up about the Edison power lines.  These lines are parallel, but not right next to the wash from New York Drive to Longden, where the wash diverges to the east. They cross the wash at San Pasqual, Huntington Drive, and below Duarte Road. Although Edison has proposed adding capacity on this route as a part of the Tehachapi Renewable Energy Transmission Project, that is a separate process, not directly related to this study.  Where the lines are near the wash, the planners envision using the land to enhance the corridor.  Some people wanted to know “why” Edison was funding the study.  The study team did not know, but it was pointed out by someone in the audience that SCE routinely funds various organizations as a part of their public relations/corporate giving programs.

Attendees included some civil servants from the cities affected  (El Monte, Temple City) and the county (Flood Control, Public Works, Health),  Mickey Long (County Natural Area Director), Helen Wong (Superintendent of Eaton Canyon Natural Area),  Don Bremner and a lady from the Sierra Club, John Howell from the Arroyo and Foothills Conservancy, and a number of residents and/or potential users.

Many good ideas were brought up; most were non-controversial (shade, native plants, parks where land is available, drinking water, minimize street crossings, consider wildlife, education opportunities, but some reflected possible conflicting values.  For example, 24 hour access or not?  If night access, what about lighting?  Can any of the wash be de-channelized (remove concrete bottom or sides)?  Can we have a year around lake behind the flood control dam at Eaton Canyon?

Of interest to the biking community, there is a “bike gap” between the Eaton Canyon Nature Center and the commuter bikeway that starts at Sierra Madre Boulevard and the wash.  The 2008 Emerald Horseshoe plan shows an extension of the multi-use ACT going down the Canyon right to the Nature Center, and then a “secondary trail” (no bikes) from there through the dam area and across Sierra Madre and on down the wash (parallel to the commuter bikeway on the other side) (Figure 4.2-18). If you are going to extend the ACT to the Natural Area it makes sense to allow bikes a straight non-road access to the commuter bike path, although this is not a big deal as Altadena Drive to Washington to Sierra Madre is not a big detour.  I also think that the County Park people will be very resistant to allowing any bikes on their main wide “trail” (it is really a dirt road), because they are justifiably concerned that mountain bikers will ride in the river bed or up the side canyons where they could damage habitat etc.  Bikers can argue this is an enforcement and education issue, and not a reason to not utilize the existing wide, low slope path from the bridge to the parking lot.

The review meetings will be September 9th 7-9 pm in Rosemead at the Garvey Center, and, with the same agenda, September 11th 10 am-12 pm at the Altadena Community Center.

– Mitch