San Gabriel Valley Tribune

San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Article Published: Friday, January 19, 2006

Officials may have solution to Rubio Canyon restoration
By Elise Kleeman, Staff Writer

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST - A nine-year debate about how to restore a landmark canyon north of Altadena could finally be drawing to a close.

Since 1998, Rubio Canyon has borne the scars of a massive landslide triggered by the Rubio Canon Land and Water Association during construction on a damaged pipeline.

The slide, large enough to cover an entire football field with more than 16 feet of rocky debris, buried five popular waterfalls and part of a sixth. It took the torrential rains of the winter of 2004 to reveal most of them again.

In the wake of the restorative flash floods, the National Forest Service decided last month not to lead an aggressive restoration of the canyon using bulldozers and heavy equipment.

"Fortunately, Mother Nature took care of a big piece of it, and that helped out a lot," said Marty Dumpis, acting district ranger of the forest's Los Angeles River Ranger District.

Instead, Dumpis said, efforts would be focused on breaking up the largest of the boulders still blocking parts of the canyon, removing broken pipes and mapping the area's historical features.

"It seems like a sensible conclusion for everybody," said Andy Turner, an attorney for the water company. "I think we're pleased that they're not going to want to build a road up there to take all of the rocks out."

The decision also essentially satisfied Paul Ayers, a Glendale attorney, hiker and longtime advocate for the canyon's restoration.

"Right now, I think this is the way to go," he said. "What you're going to see is the Forest Service, the water company and the people that are interested in the canyon as a recreation resource working together on restoration."

Under Dumpis' decision, the largest of the boulders, especially those blocking the falls or creating dams, will be fractured apart by setting off shotgun shells in holes drilled into the rock, or with water or drilling. The pieces would then be randomly distributed through the canyon.

His plan also calls for barriers that would protect the remains of the Mt. Lowe Railway, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, from future landslides. Trails would be improved, interpretive signs added and the area replanted with native plant species wherever possible.

The work could be carried out with money remaining from the $1 million secured by Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, for the restoration, Ayers said, along with the assistance of volunteers.

"I know people still have strong emotions with the water company and what happened. But if we keep tying it all into one issue, then nothing's ever going to get done," Dumpis said. "I've gotten good response from quite a few people who just want to move ahead."
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