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Patch Blog: Time Running Out for Rosemont Preserve

A final fundraising push to save La Crescenta’s hidden wilderness jewel.

By now hopefully most of you, being savvy Montrose Patch folks, have heard about the . I first learned about this back in the autumn, when Montrose Patch covered a , with the purpose of protecting it from future development. 

Having just moved into the adjacent neighborhood a few months earlier, I naively believed that the natural hillsides directly above us were already protected. I still remember the horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach upon realizing that the land was privately owned, and could potentially be sold to a land developer.  Everything we cherished about the area--especially the proximity to nature, which is quickly becoming a rarity in the region--could be lost forever. I lay awake for hours that night, and firmly resolved to do whatever I could to help put this land into the protective custody that it deserves. Since the deadline to acquire the property wasn’t until springtime, it seemed like there was plenty of time.

Over the following months, the AFC introduced themselves to the community and gave us the chance to get to know them. They attended La Crescenta Town Council meetings where they expressed their strong desire to hear our voices and concerns, and they listened to us intently. Their concern has been echoed at more intimate neighborhood meetings, with in depth discussions of how the land, if acquired, would be managed. All along, the folks at AFC have stressed that they view this project as a partnership with the local community. They have welcomed input from those who reside close to the property, as well as residents of La Crescenta as a whole, who will benefit from the preservation of our natural resources. 

Everything seemed great - an established conservation entity who wanted to protect our hillside in perpetuity, the support of the Crescenta Valley Town Council, and even a pledge from L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich to contribute over three quarters of the funding needed to protect the land. But it wasn’t until recently, when I finally had the opportunity to venture past the locked gate and set foot on the site personally, that the magnitude of this endeavor truly hit me.

It’s one thing to look at a parcel of land on Google maps and say “yes, this is worth saving.” It’s a whole other experience to walk the ground, breathe in the sage scented air, hear the melody of the birds who call this hidden paradise home and watch the setting sun cast a glow over the canyon.  

Your brain reminds you that you are only one block away from civilization, but your heart can’t help but feel immersed, protected, lost in this secret canyon. I’ll never look at that padlocked chain link gate the same way again now that I know the paradise that lies just beyond. And if the AFC is able to complete the purchase, none of us will have to look at that gate much longer. A gorgeous design for a more fitting entrance to the property has been proposed, featuring river rock columns and craftsman styling. Even if you never walk through the gate, it will certainly make a huge improvement aesthetically to the area for nearby home owners and the community at large. 

My personal visits came during several docent-led hikes presented by the AFC for the public. These tours have provided a taste of how the land would likely be used, as the AFC is very interested in offering docent programs to students, organizations and the general public. The Rosemont Preserve would make for a valuable educational resource - a wilderness classroom right in our own backyard. 

We heard fascinating presentations from community members with backgrounds in biology, geology and botany, and each shared their personal stories of what makes this small slice of nature unique and worthy of protection. For example, while the property is only 7.75 acres large, it contains various ecosystems including an alluvial wash. This is an exceptionally precious habitat for the range of life it supports, and it is becoming increasingly rare in urban areas as natural flood channels and streams are paved over. 

One of the most powerful moments occurred during my last visit. As we learned about a magnificent oak, a survivor of the Station Fire now showing signs of rebirth, we were startled by the sharp cry of a hawk. Heads snapped skyward, and we were awestruck by the sight of not one, but six red tailed hawks, circling directly above. For those of us that seek signs from Mother Nature, this was one that could not be ignored. Someone dubbed this the Blessing of the Six Hawks, and noted that perhaps they knew we were there to help them, offering their gratitude and encouragement.

As exciting and promising as the Rosemont Preserve could be, it will not come to fruition if the funds are not raised. The deadline to purchase the land is suddenly upon us, and the owner has graciously agreed to give the AFC until the end of May to raise the remaining funds. Supervisor Antonovich’s generous pledge, along with community contributions, have brought the total amount raised up to $485,000 - $40,000 shy of the funds needed. The AFC once asked the community for input as to how the Preserve should be utilized, and now they're appealing to the public to help support this conservation financially.

Clearly if there was any time to help, that time is now, especially as the AFC has just announced a fundraising matching program.

Three supporters have agreed to donate $20,000 to the project, if the community matches it with another $20,000. Each dollar received will be matched by another dollar... But we only have until the end of May.

The current owners are definitely looking to sell, and the next interested buyer might well be a land developer who will turn these glorious hills into roads and houses, streetlights and noise. As someone wisely proposed during a recent discussion, let’s raise the funds now to help acquire this pristine land, so we don’t have to spend it later in the fight over potential development. 

Many of us support nature in distant ways, by supporting groups like the Sierra Club or Audubon Society. While those are worthy organizations, we now have the unique opportunity to support our own personal wilderness.

Skip your daily fancy coffee chain latte for a week, and put that money towards a good local cause.

Do it for the hawks. Do it for your children. Do it for La Crescenta.

To learn more about the Rosemont Preserve, or to make a donation, please visit www.arroyosfoothills.org/rosemont

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Frank Colcord May 22, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Paul/Chuck, thanks for y'alls concern about the Rosemont Preserve property. As a local resident, I have participated in most of the Conservancy's public meetings, with the Town Council, etc., as well as several smaller street specific meetings and many hikes. From the very beginning, what I have heard the Conservancy say is that they will work with the community (which they have been doing a terrific job of so far) and base property access and program offering decisions on what the community as a whole wants. I personally would prefer completely open access to this beautiful piece of property, but there has also been a number of community members and adjacent property owners who have been very vocal about wanting the Conservancy to just lock the gates permanently, allowing for no access to the property at all. What I have seen the Conservancy try to do is find a balance between these two ends of the public access spectrum, finding a compromise that would hopefully best meet the whole community's wants and needs. If you all have any suggestions about how to find a better or different compromise between no access and unfettered access, other than what the Conservancy has proposed so far, I am sure they would love to hear them. Thanks!
Paul Anthony Buehler May 22, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Good morning Frank. As an owner of property directly in Pickens Canyon, I understand many of the locals concerns, and I have to deal with them regularly, but I also see the need for public tax dollars to serve the long-term needs of the community. IMO, there will always be a few highly vocal NIMBY's (Not In My Back Yard), and if we constantly followed or bowed to their demands, there would be no schools, no parks, no airports, no public roads or even National Parks or Forests (don't forget, for decades, Wyoming and Idaho vehemently opposed Yellowstone NP). So, to me, this is why we need to argue for as much access as we can prior to any sale/purchase, so that those vocal few don't take away what would better serve the entire upper Briggs and Rosemont community. And to this end, we need the conservancy to publish a clear and concise mission statement that defines how it intends this property to be used.
Paul Anthony Buehler May 22, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Further, if this was property being purchased entirely with private money, I really would not make much of a stink. But given that the majority of the money is coming from a voter approved county initiative, one whose main goal was to improve and maintain access in LA County parks, well, in my mind, that makes this a clear case of land “designed” for open public access. Then when you add that the site was last purchased to build a private school, who could complain that it isn't a better solution to have it kept as an open space? And to back that up, here we are, in a situation where you, Chuck, and I have all said we want open access! WE NEED OUR VOICE HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR! Keep Goss Canyon OPEN! ;-)
Bambi Leigh May 22, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Clearly there are a wide range of opinions as to the land use, and I’m not expecting nor seeking to change minds. I’ve heard both extremes voiced at the meetings, from keeping the land open for public recreation, to locking the gates and throwing away the key to conserve the natural state of the canyon. It is impossible to please everyone, and I feel the AFC has done the best they can do to listen to us and find the middle ground. The majority of voices have supported limited access. I imagine once the land is acquired there’s absolutely room for further discussion on this, but the urgency now is to get the land into protective hands. In a perfect world where everyone behaved responsibly and considerately -- tread softly on the land and minimized their impact -- it would be great to have open access. But unfortunately not everyone exercises good judgement. See my earlier blog for a frightening example of this: http://montrose.patch.com/blog_posts/patch-blog-what-you-shouldnt-do-on-saturday-night). As an adjacent property owner, and as someone who cares primarily about the land and the wildlife, I feel having a lot of people hanging around at all hours in a high fire risk zone would be a very bad move.
Paul Anthony Buehler May 23, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Good morning Bambi. Sorry but I do not agree with your constant use of fear as a driving force on this topic. Interjecting unfounded fears of future building technology, people hanging around at all hours, the presence of visitors causing fires, or even that time is running out are IMO, all unfounded and inappropriate to the discussion. While I could easily refute each of those in turn, I will only comment on the initial claim that “time is running out...” The Conservancy has already claimed (at their meetings at Rosemont JH and at the hikes) that they already have the money to purchase the land, and that what remains is essentially to garner enough money to cover their operational costs. So again, they have publically said they have the money for the land, and that the sale was assured months ago. I feel it is important to mention that we (the local community) need to be critical of such shoestring groups, and that we must demand the value of an established, well run organization, like the Santa Monica Conservancy. A group that has a well established track record in our area, and who is also well funded from the onset. Also, the SMC has close ties to the ANF, the FS, and the USNPS, and was a big player in creating the Santa Monica Mountains and the soon to be San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Areas.

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