A bill to clean out the Bouquet Canyon creek in Santa Clarita and allow for water to flow through the creek once more to refill the canyon’s resident’s wells was passed through the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, officials said Wednesday.
Assembly Bill 353, authored by Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, amends the Fish and Game Code to allow the implementation and maintenance of Los Angeles County’s Bouquet Canyon Habitat Restoration Project, according to the news release.
The bill passed through committee unanimously. Its next stop is to the Committee on Appropriations.
“The county has worked closely with permitting agencies to develop a riparian habitat restoration project despite existing state codes protecting endangered species — which actually prevent us from implementing a project designed to save them,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich in a news release
The Bouquet Canyons Habitat Restoration Project, by Bob Blount, district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District, would restore the habitat and biological function of the creek, including the unarmored threespine stickleback, according to a news release. The project would also allow the water let-out to resume to “historic flows” and would minimize roadway flooding and erosion to improve safety.
A refurbishment and repurposing of the Zuni Campground as an “environmental education site” and “restoration ecology staging area” is also in the proposed plan.
Lackey’s bill amends the Fully Protected Species Act by authorizing “the take of unarmored threespine stickleback,” according to the bill.
The term “take” in this case means “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or attempt to engage in any such conduct. Through regulations, the term ‘harm’ is defined as “an act which actually kills or injures wildlife. Such an act may include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering,” according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website.
“I am proud to work with Mayor Antonovich on a solution for the long running problems with Bouquet Canyon creek,” Lackey said in a news release. “Until Los Angeles County is able to complete its habitat restoration project, wildlife will continue to suffer and water problems in the area will continue. I am looking forward to Assembly Bill 353 clearing the way for this vital project.”
Floods came through Bouquet Canyon in 2005 and the sediment buildup cause the ecosystem to deteriorate, according to the news release.
Because of the sediment build up, water from the Bouquet Reservoir that flowed through the creek would flood the roadway.
Gates were installed in 2014 to close the road for when water was released from the reservoir to fill the wells of residents who live in the canyon.
But many of those residents have reported running out of water.
LARC Ranch, a community for developmentally disabled adults, resorted to trucking in 11,000 gallons of water daily, said Kathleen Sturkey, executive director of LARC Ranch, in a previous interview — a move that cost the nonprofit about $150,000 annually.
County officials let out water from the reservoir to fill up the resident’s and business’s wells, but it isn’t enough.
Most of the corn at Lombardi Ranch didn’t make it last year, said Levi Lombardi, who oversees the Lombardi Ranch, in a previous interview.
Neither the state of California nor the Santa Clarita Valley have had three straight years of this level of drought in more than 100 years of recorded history, according to water officials.