Willow and cottonwood envisioned along Lower Owens River Project
“Woody enhancement” sounds more like something out of a hooker’s business plan than an environmental goal, but it’s actually about growing trees, in this case along the lower Owens River.
In the century or so of LADWP’s occupation of the Owens Valley, many trees have been lost to falling groundwater tables. Under the Long Term Water Agreement (LTWA), LADWP and Inyo County committed to the goal of promoting tree growth, at least along the banks of the newly-restored (tongue in cheek) river and floodplains. The best laid plans have so far only resulted in failure.
But that doesn’t mean they’ve given up trying.
From February 6 through June 30, 2017, the Landscape Center of Riverside will be planting willow and cottonwood pole cuttings along the Lower Owens River as part of the adaptive management plan approved in the 2016-2017 Lower Owens River Project (LORP) work plan approved by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors in April of last year.
LORP envisions trees (under the goal of “woody recruitment”) lining the newly-restored 62-mile-long river’s edge for the first time since the water was reintroduced in the river channel in a 2006 ceremony by then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Sadly, that vision has been stymied by years of drought and less-than-ideal seasonal water flows. Hopefully, that may change because of this year’s winter storms, which are bringing much-needed relief from the past five years of record-breaking drought. Hope it seems, springs eternal, unlike water in the Eastern Sierra.
Under the $20,000 county contract approved by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors at its January 17 meeting, the Landscape Center’s Certified Arborist Dillon Reynolds will oversee the cuttings, planting and protection to reestablish small groves of willow and cottonwood trees in the lower Owens River floodplain. The cost of the tree planting is shared by the County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The supervisors were told that the tree project needs to be completed on, or about March 21, 2017—before the willow and cottonwood bud break. If LADWP’s permit approval process takes six weeks, work can begin on or about February 28.