Dominguez Channel restoration?

Some time ago I read about the Marsh Street Park, a 5 acre park developed with an eye towards improving watershed management in the Los Angeles River watershed. The park cost about $1M, which was paid for with County of LA Prop A bond money (about 1/3) and the remainder paid by the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy via funds they received from the State of California.

I live in the Dominguez watershed. With all the attention given to the Los Angeles River in recent years, there's no reason we shouldn't make some improvements locally. It turns out that the LADPW has a fairly thorough master plan for the Dominguez watershed, though it has received virtually no publicity compared to its more famous neighbor.

There's a long list of reasons to reexamine our watersheds and remediate the damage done when they were paved over. The two main reasons are to offset environmental degradation and to increase recreational areas and open space. In Los Angeles City, the national guideline for park density (10 acres per 1000 people) is only 11% fulfilled and places like Griffith Park have to turn away patrons on peak days. The South Bay is similar. Therefore, any small improvement in the amount of public lands would be of significance both for people and for the environment.

As I see it, there are four opportunities for the City of Hawthorne in the Master Plan:

  1. Dominguez Channel present day headwaters are between Kornblum Ave and Doty Ave just north of 117th St, heading southeast down under the 105 Fwy and then turning east next to 120th. There is little adjacent area on its southeast leg, since houses back onto the Channel. However, once it turns east at Yukon Ave next to to 120th St, there appears to be some land on the north side that would be suitable for a naturalized park redevelopment. The land is triangular and next to the (elevated) freeway on the north side. It's max 200 ft wide (N-S) and about 2000 ft long (E-W). On this eastern leg of the Channel, it runs above ground next to 120th then heads underground and reappears heading south parallel to Crenshaw. (item 2)
  2. Dominguez Channel south of 120th St at Crenshaw (between Hawthorne Airport and Lowes shopping center), using the fenced and unused parking area adjacent to the Channel to the west. The paved area seems to be about 1500 feet long and 150 ft wide.
  3. 132nd street drain, a tributary to the main Channel. This is about a half mile stretch, but matters may be complicated because it looks like the drain may be on or may cross the Hawthorne / LA County border. One map has it mostly in Hawthorne.
  4. Holly Park, the small northwest corner of the LA County owned Chester Washington Golf Course. This is probably of no consequence, except that the original headwaters of the Dominguez Channel are on the golf course and are planned for daylighting, so there may be some improvements available for Holly Park.
Scanning through section 4 of the Dominguez Watershed Master Plan, I see that they have a 2-5 year plan to "Daylight Historic Streams to Restore Wetlands" (section This explicitly includes the original headwaters of the Dominguez Channel (in Chester Washington Golf Course just north of Imperial Highway) where it currently flows in an underground storm drain to join the open Channel a half mile or so south of 120th (in the city of Gardena, I think). "Storm drains traversing parks and vacant areas" are also mentioned as candidates, which might point the finger at the 132nd street drain. The time line of 2-5 year is perhaps a bit optimistic given the 2004 publication date of the Master Plan, but is also an indication of the priority that they would like to give this task (relatively high, it would seem).

Other activities called out in section four of the master plan that might fall allow for funding within the plan scope are:

" Investigate feasibility and restore concrete-lined tributary channels" Clearly the Hawthorne stretch between the airport and Lowes would qualify, but they also mention the 132nd St drain, also in Hawthorne.

" Create Additional Nature Centers"

"Increase brownfields redevelopment" Does that fenced parking lot by Lowes qualify as a brownfield? What about the industrial areas adjacent to the 132nd street drain?

" Create Watershed Enhanced Recreational/Bike Trail Along Dominguez Channel" There are already maintenance roads along the sides of some areas adjacent to Hawthorne City. Seems like an easy one to implement there. At the end they write, "While this action is written specifically for the Dominguez Channel, opportunities for other recreational trails should be examined for tributary channels that empty into the Dominguez Channel (e.g., 132nd, 135th, Del Amo, Torrance Lateral)," so the 132nd street drain again gets mention.

Possible grant sources are: Five-Star Restoration Challenge Grant Program, Proposition 13, Proposition 40, Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project Work Plan and Small Grants Programs, Proposition 13 CALFED Drinking Water Program, Proposition 40 monies administered through the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, the California Coastal Conservancy's Wetland Recovery project grant monies.

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