SSMPA Releases Recommendations for a Sustainable Chatsworth Nature Preserve
Most of the land that lies between Plummer Street and Roscoe Blvd., and between Topanga Canyon and Valley Circle Blvds. was seasonal wetland and oak savannah for centuries. Then, in about 1917, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power acquired over 1,300 acres of the land, built a couple of dams, and transformed the space into "Chatsworth Reservoir."
Use of the area as a functional reservoir for water ended in 1969. The property, still owned by LADWP, has been in a kind of limbo for the last 45 years. In the mid-1990s the Los Angeles City Council approved zoning changes, intended to forestall development of the property, and changed its name from Chatsworth Reservoir to Chatsworth Nature Preserve.
For many years a shallow "Ecology Pond" has existed on the northern section of the property. The pond often shrank due to evaporation and lack of rain during summer seasons, but DWP usually refilled the pond with water from its public water utility distribution system. The summer of 2015 saw the pond dry up completely, and because of the statewide drought emergency, DWP will not use potable water to refill the ecology pond. DWP is hauling non-potable water to the pond site now, but it evaporates and infiltrates as fast as it is dumped. Many residents are distressed about the loss of a viable pond.
SSMPA sees three relatively distinct unresolved concerns about the Chatsworth Nature Preserve right now:
- Ecology Pond: DWP suggests that it will remodel the pond through dredging, lining, etc. This concern regards the unknowns involved in if, when, and how the pond will be revitalized in the midst of the drought crisis, and how adequate the result will be.
- Protecting the property from future development: As long as DWP owns the land there may be a possibility that it could be sold for commercial or residential development. Although the site has been "named" a Nature Preserve, there may not be adequate protections in place to keep it in the public domain.
- Operating a healthy and sustainable nature preserve: Action is needed to develop and adhere to a long-term plan to restore and maintain a viable nature preserve.
SSMPA recently issued the following report proposing possible resolutions to some of our concerns about the future of the Chatsworth Nature Preserve.
The Chatsworth Nature Preserve, owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) has reached a critical juncture where immediate action must be taken to avoid further, permanent damage to the habitat that the City of Los Angeles has seen fit to preserve.