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Los Angeles County Axes of Evil
The Destruction of 11 Acres of Pristine Woodland
Causes Community Outrage
By Terry Miller
In the wake of last week’s devasating obliteration of over 200 trees and one of Arcadia’s last natural ecosystems, there are opinions and fingers pointing in every direction as to who is to blame for such a wretched and sadly uncessesary end result. Why it happened in the first place is perhaps best known only to County Flood Control who refused to listen to the will of the people who live in Arcadia.
One of the founding members of a group of deeply concerned citizens who valiently attempted to save the trees and educate the county, Cam Stone, attended countless community meetings, supervisors’ meetings, and endured relentless doubletalk from the county. Cam stone is eloquent and kept noting that there were alternatives to county plans. He along with Glen Owens, a planningcommisioner in Monrovia , (who spent his own money to prove alternatives were there), pleaded with officials at Flood Control…their words and letters fell on deaf ears despite putting considerable pressure on Antonovitch’s office as well as county public works.
As Owens pointed out to Beacon Media earlier in the week, Flood Control is autocratic. This, needless to say, makes it exceedingly difficult to accomplish negotiations.
Cam stone, Glen Owens and Christle Belvin plus several other highly conciencious citizens have been essentially on the war path with the County Flood Control over an issue that could have and should been resolved without destroying trees it seems to me and numerous more enlightened than myself.
The passion and the persistence of these marvelous people needs to be applauded and recognized.
I don’t mean with plaques or recognitions like “citizen of the year “or “man of the year” but with more support – lots of it. There should have been hundreds of protestors at the gate that morning. Where were we all? The police outnumbered protestors 20 – 1.
During my years in High School and college, protest and civil disobedience is what helped stopped the Vietnam War and opened minds to alternatives. Protest brought about the Civil Rights laws and major changes that still are in their infancy. Protesting injustice gave women the right to vote. Hundreds of us took to the streets and no matter where or when, we could not be moved by police or National Guard.
Perhaps we have become too complacent on public protest. Perhaps we’re too busy reading our emails and downloading stuff when we should get out from behind the computer/smart phone and take matters into the streets. Remember the filn NETWORK….. We should all be mad as hell, and not take it anymore!
Whe I arrived at the gates at 7am there was a handful of people (perhaps 5) peacefully protesting. Others wanted to join later but the police placed crime scene tape around the perimeter and would allow anyone else in. Some one tried to give the protestors on the inside of the yellow tape some more signs but officers refused to allow this.
The Los Angeles Sheriffi’s dept refused to let the media in to witness the destruction that had started around 7 AM, Wednesday Jan 12, 2011. In fact there were several verbal altercations between some members of the media and deputies as to the legality of said restriction. In fact, they extended the area in which we (media) were not allowed and closed off the roads surrounding the entrance to the site.
A colleague of mine, Nick Ut, a photographer who is celebrating 45 years with AP won a Pulitzer Prize for his image of a naked young girl running screaming after a napalm attack in Vietnam, was also witness to this censorship that Wednesday morning.
The end of the war and horrific atrocities in Vietnam was due in no small part to Nick Ut’s stunning, powerful and sensitive black and white photography of Phan Th? Kim Phúc, who was photographed running terrified toward the camera to flee a South Vietnamese napalm attack on the Tr?ng Bàng village during in Vietnam. That image and many other Ut made along with those of his colleague, Eddie Adams really shaped the turning point of public opinion and why the war ended. Adams died recently but was quoted a while backl in the LA Times saying…” You and me Nicky, we helped stop the War.”
The powerful world of images is incontestable. Perhaps this is why the police kept the media out of the 11 acres that morning. Perhaps they knew that Nicky was there and that trees being destroyed by people in Public Works Flood Control wouldn’t exacly be the best in public relations for the County of Los Angeles.
While attempting to get images, we could hear the massive machinerey at work and were constantly getting updates from John Quigley who mangaed to get in one of the trees the previous evening along with three other brave and hearty souls… He sent video and still images to media while the trees were taken down but still the LASD refused to let any media in to witness.
There was an initial claim that it was a “crime scene” by one or two deputies, which of course was NOT the case, unless you consider what the Flood Control did to those trees a crime – which, of course, many do including anyone who witnessed the scene’s aftermath. It looked like a war zone on Thursday when Public Works finally allowed some media to photograph the site.
On Tuesday Evening Jan 12, 4 people decided that the only way they were going to prevent an ecological disaster was by climbing into those very majestic and old trees whose life was in imminent jeopardy. Veteran “tree sitter” John Quigley; a newcomer to the art, Julia Posin, plus Andrea Bowers and Travis Jochimsen did exactly that under the cover of darkness and with the help of a few strong friends.
The security guards who started patrolling the site a few days earlier apparently were unaware of the four entering the property. More money well spent by the county!
Since the trees have now been executed and reduced to pulp, several in the media and some bloggers have come up with diverse and varied opinions about this and the other seriously controversial issues (i.e. the Coyote trappings that have finally stopped, or will in a few days) Arcadia faced in recent weeks.
Cam Stone read a piece written by Scott Hetrick which was published on his own blog as well as that of America OnLine’s hyperlocal news site. And was rather upset, to say the least: Here is Cam’s letter – sent to us and a local blog run by America On Line. We asked Cam’s permission to reprint and he obliged.
“In Scott Hettrick’s (Arcadia’s Best) Blog opinion piece “Coyotes, Trees; I’m Not Moved” there wasn’t enough comment space to vomit it all, so here is the rest of my rant:
I believe that a fool is someone who loves to pontificate on subjects that he knows nothing about just to show others how smart he is. Scott Hettrick has shown us all that he can write a long winded opinion piece on a subject of which he is absolutely clueless. Scott never made any effort or attempt to dig into the story of the Arcadia Woodlands to gather facts. He even thinks that he saw the Woodlands a year ago – he did not. What he saw were the spreading grounds nearby which is in fact “some trees like any other trees but mostly dirt”
Just about everything in Scott’s article is inaccurate, misleading or just plain false. Scott’s magazine “Arcadia’s Best” is just a shill rag for the Westfield Mall and the Arcadia City Council anyway so I guess this is what we should expect from him anyway.
Matt Burch of the Arcadia Patch, on the other hand, really dug into the Arcadia Woodlands story. He spent an amazing amount of time researching the story and interviewing people on both sides. Matt even asked me to take him in to see the Woodlands, a place Scott never saw, and we spent an entire afternoon walking through this magical place taking pictures.
Terry Miller from the Arcadia Weekly was also highly involved in the story that Scott dismisses so easily with a wave of his hand. Perhaps Scott is trying to justify his own inadequate – no, non-existent coverage of issues that are in fact very important to local Arcadia residents. He’s far too busy “doing lunch” with Westfield executives.
“Arcadia’s Best” is a dead end and will most certainly fade away in the coming months or years. The Arcadia Patch and the Arcadia Weekly (Beacon) are coming on strong and will put “Acadia’s Best” out of its misery. I have re-named the Arcadia Woodlands to “The Arcadia Wastelands” and perhaps a more fitting name for Scott’s rag should be “Arcadia’s Worst”.
I would be more than happy to debate Mr. Hettrick on this issue …..
Mr. Hettrick was informed of this story which is of extreme importance to Local Arcadia Residents by an email that I wrote to him on November 27, 2010. Scott chose to ignore this story which ended up going national and gave the City of Arcadia a huge black eye. Arcadia is now known throughout the nation as the place where they kill pristine woodlands and coyotes.
Here’s a copy of Cam Stone’s email to Scott (Hettrick) on November 27 can be found below.
Local Arcadia Resident
Date: November 27, 2010
Subject: The Last Pristine Native Woodlands in the San Gabriel Valley is about to be Destroyed
Dear Mr. Hettrick
I am writing to you to let you know that a hidden Arcadia treasure is about to be destroyed. I am desperate to get the news of this imminent disaster for future generations of Arcadians out to the public and to the City Council itself.
Glen Owens of Monrovia and myself have taken it upon ourselves to alert the public about impending destruction of the last untouched wilderness in the San Gabriel Valley flatlands. This beautiful area is hidden within a much larger area owned and managed by the LA County Flood Control District. The entire area is fenced off to keep the public out so very few people have ever seen this natural treasure within a stone’s throw of Highland Oaks Avenue in Arcadia. The area is bordered by Sycamore Avenue to the south, Highland Oaks Avenue to the west, Wilderness Park to the north and Bluth Hill to the east.
This area is slated for destruction so that sediment that has built up behind the Big Santa Anita Canyon Dam can be excavated and dumped at this site. This massive project is set to begin next month.
I live nearby and have been enjoying the solitude of this woodland since I was a teenager. My Senior Citizen mother has always loved hiking and being out in nature. Although she takes a walk everyday, she is now unable to hike on mountain trails due to a fear of tripping on a rock. I now frequently take her into this pristine woodland to be rejuvenated by the quiet solitude of nature. Because this area is virtually flat and has a nice graded dirt road running through the center of it, she can walk here with her eyes up to take in the beauty of the massive oaks and sycamore trees with the San Gabriel Mountains as a backdrop. I always point out to her the ever-present fresh bear and dear tracks. (Yes, bears use this area more than I do!).
There are many places in this woodland area where one can look up at the massive face of the San Gabriel Mountains and see no evidence of man’s presence or development. I always pause here and imagine that I am the first person to gaze upon the beauty of the San Gabriel Valley well before the long march of development changed the Valley forever.
The City of Monrovia (next door to Arcadia) has taken very proactive measures to protect its natural heritage for future generations to enjoy. That City has purchased over 1000 acres of land in its foothill areas and has dedicated this land as a wilderness conservancy preventing its destruction and/or development forever. To my knowledge, Arcadia has never purchased one acre of land for this purpose.
I strongly believe that the future of this wonderful place should be as a wilderness walking park that will allow senior citizens, handicapped people in wheelchairs and children in strollers to enjoy the only true wilderness left in the flatlands of the San Gabriel Valley. In less than a month, chain saw crews will arrive to chop down Oaks, Sycamores and Mountain Bay Trees that have been alive and watching over the San Gabriel Mountains since long before Lucky Baldwin first stepped foot in the valley.
I have posted several pictures of this woodland at:
I would be more than happy to take you and anyone you may like to bring along in to see one of the most beautiful places in the entire San Gabriel Valley. The Pasadena Star News has done a front page story on the eminent destruction of these woodlands. I believe that your readers (the people of Arcadia) would be highly interested in this story because the natural heritage of their city is at stake.
If you do decide to write a story about this, I will organize a day in the near future to take a group of like minded people into the Arcadia Woodlands. Those wishing to see this amazing place should contact me at:
Here’s Scott’s response:
Actually, Cam, I’ve never done lunch or any other meal with any Westfield executive — good idea. I did, however, have a long dinner last night with a very strong opponent of the tree destruction and coyote trappings.
Sadly, you have disappointed me by confirming my observation that some opponents are more interested in rhetoric and name-calling and spreading inaccurate, inflammatory accusations than engaging in a productive and civil discussion. Even though you never reached out to me, I figured you were one of the more reasonable ones.
Here’s Cam’s apology:
Scott, I did reach out to you via email on November 27, 2010 and received no response. If you like, I can retransmit that email to you. I apologize for the name calling. I have spent the last two months of my life trying to save the Arcadia Woodlands and your uninformed opinion piece made me furious and I lashed out. I’m sorry.
There is nobody that knows more about this issue than I do as should be obvious from the coverage by all your competitors – Its too bad that you didn’t reach out to me.
Thanks Cam for your thoughts and thanks too to Glen Owens and Chrstle Balvin and all the rest of the people involved in trying so desperately to save the trees from the County’s axes of evil!
We welcome your comments:
Please send them to : firstname.lastname@example.org Put TREES in Subject line