Growing “Calles Verdes”: Restoring the Pacoima Wash

Nothing inspires me more than seeing people come together to make change.

Over the past couple months, TreePeople has worked to restore the Pacoima Wash with the help of our volunteers and the City of San Fernando. When we started, the area was overgrown with weeds and littered with trash, but after just a couple visits it already looks like it’s gotten the green treatment!

Did you know that the Pacoima Wash Greenway is also nature-based infrastructure? The 4.7-acre park diverts and cleans runoff from nearby neighborhood streets through a system of built and natural filters into a streambed or “arroyo.” Our recent winter rains has sprung the wash into action to capture and sink rain into the ground.

  

People in. Trash out. Park restored.

I remember how it felt– the warm morning sun shining on my skin that day. People were ready. Even though it was early, more than 120 excited volunteers lined up at the sign-in table eager to heal the park. I looked around the crowd inspired by the different faces– we were joined by a boy scout troop, UCLA students, community members and two different clubs from local high schools.

Park restoration is hard work. An average day has dedicated volunteers bent over in the brush to pull out weeds and invasive species and haul out trash and debris.

 

You won’t believe what happened next!

I saw volunteers take the lead– they broke out into groups out along the Pacoima Wash to quickly fill wheelbarrows, trash cans and tarps with debris and invasive weeds. The people cheered each other on as they carried heavy load after load to the dumpster.  

“I love being here surrounded by trees and water. It’s so peaceful. I know I’m in the middle of a big city, but here I feel hidden from it all,” a volunteer said to me after soaking in a view of the Angeles National Forest.

She spoke for us all– for new faces and for our most faithful volunteers. We all wanted to help, so people have a safe place to escape the noise and get into nature.

The first park along the Pacoima Wash Greenway offers walking trails, stunning views of the Angeles Forest, and a beautiful shady picnic area under a grape arbor. When you visit, you’ll see custom tile, decorative iron work and gates, and quaint bridges setting the stage for the space’s native plants and trees.

Converting concrete to canopy, growing green streets and building community are TreePeople’s top priority– especially for communities like the City of San Fernando.

Fighting Climate Change in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.

The people and environment of LA’s San Fernando Valley need help.

But there’s good news! TreePeople has received initial funding from the California Coastal Conservancy for what will be a $1-million-plus green streets project for the City of San Fernando. Our Calles Verdes Project will create a model “cool city.” Here, local TreePeople Green Teams will transform seven streets with nearly 1,000 trees, native plants rain gardens over four years. The project will dovetail with the City’s Safe Routes to Schools Program to help grow healthy communities by encouraging walking, biking and public transportation.

San Fernando is LA’s ground-zero for climate change– suffering from some of the most extreme heat in the area. As of today, the people of San Fernando see an average of 54 extreme heat days per year (95°F or above). If change doesn’t happen, that number could climb to 92 days by 2050, and to 126 days by the end of the century — that’s four full months of extreme heat per year.

 

Be the change. Make a difference. Take action now.

Peter Roquemore is TreePeople's Volunteer Manager. Peter has spent the past six years organizing communities around renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean water. He is excited to be working side by side with TreePeople's volunteers to help grow and restore our urban forest and wild lands. New to Los Angeles you can find Peter on his bike exploring LA's streets and mountain trails or tracking down LA's best vegan taco.