Act Locally

Join us in cleaning up Compton Creek on May 8. It's always an eye-opening experience.

Happy 40th Earth Day! It seems as if the enormous 20th anniversary celebration was just yesterday, but that’s what happens when you get old. For Heal the Bay, Earth Day used to mean Earth Month, but now the festivities occur mid-March to mid-May. Heal the Bay staff and volunteers will deliver at least 79 educational talks and lead over 112 beach cleanups over the period.

When I heard those numbers, I didn’t feel pride. Instead, I felt sympathy – as in our educational programs department, led by the peerless and tireless Meredith McCarthy, and the rest of our staff needed some serious time on the therapist’s couch.

Talk about delusions of grandeur! Are Meredith and the gang trying to save the planet in real time? God knows we need it. Meredith has a lot of founding president Dorothy Green in her. By working harder than everyone else, she leads by example. And she’s just so darn friendly and gracious that it’s nearly impossible to say no to her.

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Many Rivers to Cross …

The Los Angeles "Engineered Earth-bottom Flood Control Channel." Photo: L.A. Times

The Los Angeles "Engineered Earth-bottom Flood Control Channel." Photo: L.A. Times

Does Los Angeles County really have rivers?

Based on Thursday’s debacle of a Regional Water Board hearing, I’m not sure its staff believe that there is an L.A. River, Compton Creek, Santa Clara River, or San Gabriel River. Flood control channels, yes. Living, breathing rivers, no.

The item before the Board was Los Angeles County’s  Section 401 certification application on the “Maintenance Clearing of Engineered Earth Bottom Flood Control Channels” for about 100 water body segments.  (The application falls under a Clean Water Act section regarding dredging and filling of waters of the United States).

Unfortunately, the hearing on the item was cancelled due to a major faux pas by Board staff.  They inadvertently provided a pocket approval of the county’s application by not rendering a decision within one year of its submission. The county’s application was submitted and deemed complete for review by Board staff last August.

The end result? The county’s flawed five-year 401 certification is bound for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approval with no changes and there’s nothing we can do about it. Continue reading

To Supervisor Burke: Compton Creek Needs Your Help

Readers – Please send a letter similar to mine below to Supervisor Burke at seconddistrict@bos.lacounty.gov. Her help is critical in turning a polluted and previously neglected Compton Creek into a clean, beautiful and healthy community treasure. Thank you!


Dear Supervisor Burke:

Heal the Bay has spent over six years working with the local community on cleaning up Compton Creek. Compton Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux first inspired Heal the Bay to work towards turning this urban blight into a community resource.

We have partnered with the City of Compton, LA County, local church groups, Compton schools, the Coastal Conservancy, Santa Monica Mountains and Rivers and Mountains Conservancies, neighborhood groups, the Los Angeles and San Gabriel River Watershed Council and other groups on about 10 river cleanups, watershed monitoring and education efforts, and outdoor living room and  pocket park projects. 

We even successfully encouraged the City of LA and the County to install thousands of catch basin screens and inserts to reduce the tremendous volumes of trash in Compton Creek. An  incredible amount of work has happened in your district to improve the urban watershed, yet we still haven’t helped Councilwoman Arceneaux achieve her original dream: a clean, beautiful and healthy Compton Creek.

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