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Commentary by Linda Castro
| Thursday, Aug 21, 2014

LindaCastroI would like to say thank you to the Annenberg Foundation. It has stepped in to give a huge helping hand to a local and beloved nonprofit organization so it can continue to be of service to our community.

The Los Angeles Residential Community (LARC) Ranch was founded in 1959 by a group of parents who envisioned a better life for their developmentally disabled children. LARC Ranch, located in Bouquet Canyon, has been providing homes, recreation, social activities, physical fitness and other services to developmentally disabled adults for years.

Earlier this year, due in part to our severe drought, LARC’s wells began to run dry as the aquifer beneath Bouquet Canyon also dried up. Although the drought is largely to blame, the lack of water at LARC Ranch and at neighboring properties in Bouquet Canyon can be attributed to the fact that the Angeles National Forest will not allow Bouquet Canyon Creek, which was obstructed during earlier flooding, to be cleared.

This has essentially blocked the creek from flowing along its natural course and to the properties’ wells. The situation is immersed in a political and bureaucratic mess involving multiple government agencies with no light at the end of the tunnel.

What Bouquet Creek is supposed to look like.

What Bouquet Creek is supposed to look like.

After LARC’s wells began to run dry, the organization began trucking in water. This was extremely expensive – it has been costing more than $12,000 per month. LARC administrators began to worry they would not be able to keep their doors open.

When the Annenberg Foundation learned about the problem, it announced it would make a $500,000 donation to keep the water flowing. Foundation CEO Wallis Annenberg added the following to her announcement: “I am fortunate to be in a position to help, and to help immediately. That said, the public sector is also at its best when entrepreneurship, urgency and pragmatism win out over process and protocol, especially when addressing the needs of the most underserved members of our community.”

Kathleen Sturkey, executive director of LARC, expressed her enormous gratitude but also said her organization must continue raise funds to pay for a permanent solution.

I was happy to hear LARC Ranch has received a lifeboat, so to speak. The Annenberg Foundation chose a worthy recipient for its donation. I am hopeful LARC will soon be able to find and afford a permanent solution to its water issues, so it can continue its great work.

 

Linda Castro is a nature enthusiast and animal lover. She is the Desert Field Organizer for the California Wilderness Coalition and serves on the board of the SCV-based Community Hiking Club. Her articles highlight local and community stories that are heartwarming, uplifting or inspiring.

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4 Comments

  1. Walter Lamb says:

    Certainly this is a generous donation to a good cause. However, I’m concerned to hear the author and Ms. Annenberg seemingly equate the protection of endangered species with red tape without providing a more detailed explanation of why they think that way. Presumably, the hesitation in clearing the creek has to do with protecting the endangered Unarmored Threespine Stickleback. If the author believes that is not the case, it would have been interesting to hear the details.

    My interactions with the Annenberg Foundation have not instilled confidence in their understanding of ecology. They are pushing to construct care and adoption facilities for domestic pets in a state ecological reserve under the umbrella of an “urban ecology center.”

    Hopefully a good solution can be found to provide water to LARC without increasing any risk for endangered species.

    Walter Lamb
    Culver City, CA

  2. Walter Lamb says:

    What is your source of information for this statement? The US Fish and Wildlife Service study linked to below clearly cites Bouquet Canyon as habitat for the endangered Unarmored Threespine Stickleback (UTS) as of 2009.

    http://www.fws.gov/carlsbad/SpeciesStatusList/5YR/20090529_5YR_UTS.pdf

    Is your argument that the endangered UTS has already been extirpated with no hope of its return and therefore no further consideration of its status is warranted? Frankly, I’m uncomfortable with Wallis Annenberg having any influence over such a decision. It is one thing to advocate for Government efficiency, it is another to pressure government agencies to take short cuts when it comes to the important mission of conservation of our planet’s rapidly dwindling biodiversity.

    Walter Lamb
    Culver City

    • SCVNews.com says:

      Genetics. US Fish & Wildlife misclassified them in 2009. They had been genetically tested by US Forest Service and found to be what we already knew …. they are (non-endangered) low-plated morphs that were imported from Piru Creek in the 1970s. They were “scooped up” with trout that were transplanted to stock Bouquet Creek for anglers. The (endangered) UTS is in the Santa Clara River in Soledad Canyon and (probably) in San Francisquito Creek. Never in Bouquet.

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