31 March 2009

Chino Hills Champion Carbon Canyon Chronicling

It's probably been said here before, but residents of Chino and Chino Hills need to support the Champion newspaper. It is an excellent local paper with good local stories and a fine editorial page, as well as an impressive history. The Champion has been continuously published weekly since 1887, making it the oldest newspaper in the region and one of the longest-lasting in California. In this age of the rapidly-deteriorating press, it should be a local priority to keep the Champion alive and well. Not just because of its historical significance, but because the paper is relevant. Speaking of which, last Saturday's edition had several relevant articles for Carbon Canyon.

First up, the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council is moving its meetings at the Sleepy Hollow Community Center from the first Tuesday to the first Wednesday of each month. The reason? Folks from Olinda Village over in Brea have joined the council, rather than form their own, which is a great thing for the council, for Olinda Village, and for stronger connections between the Chino Hills and Brea portions of the Canyon. When it comes to the Canyon, in fact, the geographical distinctions between cities (and counties) seems more artificial than it might appear elsewhere. Certainly a fire is not going to recognize the boundaries! Tomorrow night, the 1st, at 7 p.m. is the first meeting under the new schedule and there will be discussion on networking with surrounding communities (such as La Habra Heights, perhaps, which was just featured on a post on the blog?); obtaining money for fighting highly-invasive and flammable arundo; dealing with brush removal; fire danger signs for the Canyon; volunteers to patrol the Canyon during the threat of fire; and a "Wildfire Awareness Fair" for 30 May.

A related short article pointed out that Chino Valley's rainfall total, as the rainy season comes near its end, was only 5.23 inches, less than one-third the normal rainfall and only one-half of last year's subpar total. This is a surprising figure because, according to the Los Angeles Times, the rainfall total in Fullerton, only a few miles away, has been slightly above normal, while totals in Los Angeles and Ventura have been below. At any rate, reservoir storage in Californis remains at a low level and a water emergency has already been declared by the Governor. This does not bode well for water supply, nor for our upcoming fire season.

This, in turn, leads to the next article, which concerns the deceptive display of lush greenery in Chino Hills State Park (and, by extension, the areas, including Carbon Canyon, around it.) Deceptive, because invasive grasses and weeds are taking advantage of the clearing caused by last November's Freeway Complex Fire to invade the park and keep out native plants. Park personnel, already at low numbers for such a large, albeit passive-use, setting before the economic downturn, are doing their best to eradicate these destructive invasives, there is so much to combat. Fortunately, according to ecologist Alissa Ing, there is a strong recovery of plants and trees in many sections of the park, such as riparian habitats where chaparral, sage scrub, sycamores, and oaks are showing encouraging signs. Other state park news: $30,000 in repairs to bridges and clearing emergency roads has been conducted, though some trails are closed because of destroyed bridges. Burned trail identification signs are being replaced by ones now on order and there is a request to FEMA to replace some fencing and for reimbursement for a 106-acre burn area that was a rehabilitation project before the fall fire.

Meanwhile, on the editorial page, there is a short piece referring to the fact that the invasive grasses that are taking root in the state park constitute a "flashy fuel," meaning that they are very flammable materials that will dry rapidly by June and be a real danger for future fires, unless they can be rooted out, which is being pursued, as noted above.

Further, there is one other short note in this same editorial section, concerning closures of Carbon Canyon Road. To quote directly, "To prevent Carbon Canyon residents from driving all the way to the Orange County line only to find Carbon Canyon Road closed during an incident, Chino Hills will request a reader board sign be placed at the fire station entrance on Carbon Canyon Road." Currently, there are signs placed at the eastern and western "mouths" of the Canyon, but for those of us who live in between, there has been no intermediate signage warning of closures. I'm all for placing a board at the Canon Lane intersection, so let's hope this happens.

Finally, there is a recap of the Aerojet OB/OD (Open Burn/Open Detonation) certification by the state DTSC (Department of Toxic Substances Control.) Reporter Marianne Napoles wrote that "only a dozen residents showed up to the workshop," however, though it should be said that, given our incrementally-increasing apathy about most issues, this is hardly a surprise. As this matter has already been fairly extensively covered in this blog, there isn't much to add concerning the cleanup project, other than that this article concluded by stating that "Aerojet made an agreement with the city that it would not approach Chino Hills with a residential land use map until the DTSC makes a determination on the land use," by which I assume it is meant that, once DTSC certifies the land was properly cleaned and is safe, Aerojet will begin plans to build hundreds of homes on its property. That is a whole other future issue to ponder at a later date!

As a twelve-year subscriber to the paper, I can testify that it has been invaluable to my understanding of so many local issues and, once again, I'd like to encourage Chino and Chino Hills residents and others who are interested in the area to subscribe and support this local treasure! A link to the paper's web site is at the links section at the right edge of the main blog page.

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