Some Los Angeles residents are angry with the federal government for clearing trees and brush from dozens of acres near a concrete riverbed and dam that they say left thousands of birds homeless.
Of no apparent concern was a contributing factor for the cleanup cited by the Army Corps of Engineers — to get rid of the camouflage that helped conceal a homeless camp frequented by prostitutes and drug dealers.
The chief reason for the removal and the primary concern of the corps was to rid the flood zone of dangerous debris.
But environmentalists lead by the Audubon Society complained loudly to the press that more than 40 acres of the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve nestled among ribbons of Los Angeles freeways were vandalized by the corps leaving nothing but bare earth.
‚??I am horrified and saddened that no thought was given to the needs of wildlife that lived here,‚?Ě Alan Pollackcq, an Audubon board member told the Los Angeles Daily News.
Adding insult to injury, environmentalists complained, tire tracks left by trucks performing the work also scared the dirt over which Canadian geese, white pelicans, egrets and herons used to soar.
And in spite of the corps assertion the brush and tree removal was necessary to prevent debris from causing further damage as eventual floods washed over the plain, the bird watchers and a Democratic member of Congress demanded that the work be suspended.
‚??Given the protests from the community and concerns with the extent of the vegetation management project, I strongly urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to immediately cease all work on the project and to convene a meeting with community and environmental organizations and my office to¬† ‚?¶ ensure the plan properly balances the objectives of flood control, habitat restoration, passive recreational use and public safety,‚?Ě said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) in a Jan. 3 letter to the corps.
Col. Mark Toy, commander of the corps‚?? Los Angeles district, later held such a meeting with environmentalists and local politicians, and the project was suspended.
In the future, there will be no more removal of the floodway debris and makeshift hideaways for the homeless, prostitutes and drug addicts without the knowledge, approval and direct involvement and supervision of the local Audubon chapters.
‚??Under our direction, they will proceed with removing already downed trees and branches that could adversely impact dam flood gates in case of a significant flood,‚?Ě said a Feb. 6 memo from the meeting published by the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society.
So how will the government deal with the eventual repopulation by prostitutes, beggars and drug dealers?
That was mentioned as number four on the bird-watchers‚?? statement of significant concerns: ‚??There are numerous unsupported allegations with absolutely no supporting data provided. Some examples: no crime statistics presented (and) how many fires resulted from homeless encampments ‚?¶‚?Ě
The Sepulveda Dam was built in 1941 to control flooding from the Los Angeles River, following the destructive 1938 floods that killed 144 people. Numerous Movies, television shows, music videos and commercials have been filmed there, including Entourage, 24, Knight Rider and The Fast and the Furious.