Yesterday a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked a slight, cautious return of native environment to the Sepulveda Basin, in the form of Bull Creek's revitalization. The “ecosystem restoration project,” as it's known in bureau parlance, provides about 28 acres of aquatic and riparian habitat as it might have existed before Conquistador boots and Water Department wingtips began mucking things up. Bull Creek, located in the San Fernando Valley's Anthony Beilenson Park near Lake Balboa, is a “perennial stream” tributary of the Los Angeles River, and last year had its bottom scraped clean of invasive plants such as reeds and arundo, whose familiar, bamboo-like forests choke portions of the L.A. River.
The idea, besides that of restoring the local environment, is to attract both indigenous and migratory birds. There are walking trails and a large island planted in the middle of the creek, connected to the shore by four bridges. The Bull Creek restoration has been knocking around on paper since the early 1990s, when early explorations were funded to the tune of $511,000. After the Army Corps of Engineers got done with it, the creek cost $5.2 million — about half of it coming from the U.S. government. (The land is federally owned and leased to the City of Los Angeles.) Today the land is fairly barren but the creek's supporters, among them environmentalists, birders and nearby homeowners, eargerly await its greening.