Bulldozers are not exactly the machineries of joy, but they are what the Department of Public Works uses every September to scrape the soft bottom of Compton Creek of debris and vegetation in advance of anticipated winter storms. The problem, according to environmentalists quoted by the L.A. Times, is that they also create havoc for the aquatic and riparian wildlife that has settled in over the past year.
The earthen-bed portion of Compton Creek is an eight-mile waterway that snakes through South L.A.'s most industrialized and neglected terrain, yet has improbably survived decades of abuse to support varieties of plant and animal life. Last July, L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas nudged his colleagues into backing a master plan aimed at reviving the creek. The Times says eco-groups such as Heal the Bay and Friends of the Los Angeles River have been pressuring the county into using human labor to do the same job that bulldozers do with so much destruction. However, for now, at least, the bulldozers will scrape the mighty Compton as they have before.
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See Judith Lewis' 2005 L.A. Weekly cover story, "A Creek Flows in Compton."