Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gabrieleno Indians oppose Whittier Narrows water museum/meeting hall project — Los Angeles Times

In a widely reported development in the story of the controversial water museum proposed for the Whittier Narrows Natural Area, the Gabrieleno Band of Mission Indians announced their opposition to the project Thursday at the threatened wildlife sanctuary.
“It's one thing for a child to push a button and see a picture of nature. But there is nothing like walking along a trail here, seeing, smelling, hearing, and touching nature all around you.” — Lucy Pedregon, Gabrieleno Indian and educator.
Click here to read the story that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Friday. The story was also reported in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, on the architecture website la.curbed.com, and in numerous locations on the Internet and blogosphere.

The tribal representatives and others who spoke at the event all communicated the message that the project — a $22 million taxpayer-funded water museum and meeting hall called the San Gabriel River Discovery Center — would be inappropriate development for an important area of remaining open space and a historic center of Gabrieleno culture; would destroy rare habitat, plants and wildlife; and threatens to disturb ancestral remains and artifacts.

Members of the tribe, the original Native American inhabitants of the Los Angeles basin, questioned the rationale for the project and its cost in natural, historical and cultural resources.

“It's one thing for a child to push a button and see a picture of nature,” said Lucy Pedregon, a Gabrieleno and a media aide in the Hacienda-La Puente school district. “But there is nothing like walking along a trail here, seeing, smelling, hearing, and touching nature all around you.”

The Gabrielenos also offered an alternative vision for the Whittier Narrows wildlife sanctuary and its nature center, including renovation of the existing facilities and inclusion of Native American history and artifacts, improvements to interpretive displays along nature trails, and a monthly volunteer program focused on sharing Native American culture with the community.

Renovation of existing interpretive centers or the adaptive reuse of other buildings has been successfully achieved at a number of locations in Southern California, including the National Park Service’s Scorpion Ranch Visitor Center on Santa Cruz Island, Los Angeles County’s Placerita Canyon Nature Center and Haramokngna cultural center high in the Angeles National Forest.

The Gabrieleno vision would use this sustainable, historically and environmentally focused approach to develop a rich cultural resource in the heart of urban east Los Angeles County.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Friends' petition invites community to add its voice to campaign to save Whittier Narrows Natural Area

We’ve started a petition to help the community tell officials that we want the Whittier Narrows Natural Area and Nature Center preserved today and for future generations, not sacrificed to make way for a government and water agency water museum and meeting hall.

To go to the petition, including its background information, or preamble, you can click here or click on the link below. You can also go directly to the signature page by clicking on the "Sign our Petition" counter at the right.

By signing today, you help to send a clear message that our tax dollars, our public lands and our children's access to firsthand experiences of nature are not to be sacrificed in a misguided attempt to build an unsustainable $22 million water agency marketing tool.

As part of the petition, we offer our vision for truly community-focused, fiscally responsible and environmentally appropriate improvements at our community’s wildlife sanctuary:
  • Restoration of habitat and improvement of trails and interpretive displays
  • Eco-friendly renovation of the nature center
  • Historical landmark status for the entire Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, as recommended in a federal historic resources survey of Whittier Narrows.
With your help, we can prevent the terrible waste and failure that has plagued water museum projects, and project like them, from claiming the Whittier Narrows Natural Area as yet another victim. Please sign today, and please ask your friends, family and others to sign too.

Together we can save the Whittier Narrows Natural Area.

Find our petition at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-whittier-narrows-natural-area.html