Cooperatove Conservation Project

Arroyo Seco Watershed Restoration Program

Cooperative Project Works to Preserve and Enhance One of Southern California's Greatest Natural Treasures

Location: Far West Region: California

Project Summary: The Arroyo Seco Watershed Restoration Program is developing a comprehensive, long-term program to manage and restore the grand canyon that runs from the San Gabriel Mountains to downtown Los Angeles.
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Concrete is removed from the Arroyo Seco stream in Pasadena as part of a larger effort to restore stream values and riparian habitat. Don Rogers, photographer.
Resource Challenge

The Arroyo Seco, which has been called Southern California's most celebrated canyon, links the San Gabriel Mountains to the Los Angeles River near downtown Los Angeles.  It includes a dramatic mountain watershed and an urbanized canyon and plane which hosts the Rose Bowl, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Southwest Museum, and a variety of environmental and cultural treasures. 

Two non-govermental organizations, the Arroyo Seco Foundation and North East Trees, initiated this project with a vision to restore and better manage the Arroyo Seco watershed. The first step was the development of the Arroyo Seco Watershed Restoration Feasibility Study issued in May, 2002.  This program assessed resource challenges, including flood and stream management, habitat restoration, water resources and recreational opportunities in the watershed and identified goals and projects for conservation, better management, and restoration.  Two organizational vehicles were established to link and coordinate the efforts of agencies, organizations and individuals working to promote better watershed maangement.  The first, the Council of Arroyo Seco Agencies (CASA), brings together the major governmental entities that have management, planning or regulatory responsibility in the Arroyo Seco.  The second, the Council of Arroyo Seco Organizations (CASO), provides a forum for neighborhood and community based organizations as well as environmental groups to discuss issues and programs in the watershed and to collaborate. 

The Arroyo Seco Watershed Coordination Program, funded by the California Department of Conservation, provides organizational support to these efforts and has undertaken wide-ranging educational programs in water resources, conservation and the environment. Groups are now working together to develop the Arroyo Seco Greenway, which will unite efforts throughout the watershed to link up trails, restore habitat, and promote a greater awareness of the history, culture, and natural resources of the Arroyo Seco.  A cooperative agreement between the governmental entities is now being developed to provide a framework for programs and a commitment to goals.

Examples of Key Partners
  • Arroyo Seco Foundation
  • County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works
  • California Department of Conservation
  • City of Pasadena
  • City of Los Angeles
  • National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • North East Trees
  • The Council of Arroyo Seco Organizations
  • The Council of Arroyo Seco Agencies
  • and others.
Results and Accomplishments
  • The Arroyo Seco Watershed Restoration Feasibility Study (May, 2002) assessed the watershed and identified goals and projects for better watershed management and restoration. 
  • Pasadena has developed a Master Plan for the five mile streatch of the Arroyo which runs through it,  That master plan was adopted by the Pasadena City Council in September, 2004. 
  • The Arroyo Seco Water Quality and Habitat Restoration Plan, now being completed by North East Trees, has reviewed water quality goals and identified. 
  • Two organizational vehicles, CASO and CASA, are meeting regularly to discuss, plan and collaborate on common goals and programs. 
  • The Arroyo Seco Stream Team has been formed for volunteers who want to contribute in a systematic to the project. 
  • The Arroyo Seco Watershed Coordination Program has developed an extensive array of targetted educational efforts to promote source water awareness and protection, conservation and environmental stewardship. 

One recent accomplishment that symbolizes the progress of the watershed restoration program was a Pasadena program that removed more than 450 tons of concrete and large swaths of non-native invasive species from the Arroyo Seco steam and canyon. The project then reestablished native riparian habitat along two long stretches of the stream.

Project Contact
Tim Brick
Managing Director
Arroyo Seco Foundation
539 E. Villa Street #2
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 792-2442
Travis N. Perry
Project Manager
County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Watershed Management Division
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works 900 S. Fremont Avenue, 11th Floor
Alhambra, CA 91803
(626) 458-4319

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