Water Agencies Present $75,000 to Spur Native Plants at New Visitor's Center

Oct. 27, 2003
Gardens to Be Landscaped with Water-Saving Native Plants

The estimated 7 million people a year who travel through Azusa to the San Gabriel River's headwaters and the Angeles National Forest will soon be greeted by a major landscaping effort showcasing Southern California's beautiful, historic and drought-tolerant native plants.

Federal, city and water agency officials applauded as Metropolitan Water District, on behalf of the Family of Southern California Water Agencies, presented Azusa Mayor Cristina Cruz-Madrid with a $75,000 check from the City Makeover Program toward landscaping a new San Gabriels visitor's center with water-saving native plants.

"The new center's landscaping will not only show visitors the beauty of California's native vegetation, but hopefully will encourage people to plant them in their own yards and help conserve water for our region," said Cruz-Madrid.

Currently, the U.S. Forest Service operates a cramped visitor's center in a dilapidated trailer on San Gabriel Canyon Road, a half-mile north of Sierra Madre Avenue. The new, $1.4 million, 1,500-square-foot San Gabriel River and Angeles National Forest Gateway Interpretive Center will be built on adjacent city property and will be leased and staffed by the Forest Service.

Additionally, U.S. Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-El Monte) authored the San Gabriel River Watershed Study Act, federal legislation signed by President Bush that requires the federal government to study and report on how to protect and improve the area's environmental and recreational resources.

The water agencies' check was presented by Frank Forbes, a member of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District and former USGVMWD representative on Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's board of directors, and by Richard Hansen, general manager of Three Valleys Municipal Water District and former Metropolitan board member. Both local water districts were involved in the effort to secure the City Makeover funds for the city of Azusa.

The City Makeover program, encouraging landscaping with native, water-saving plants, has helped urban Southern California reach a new reality: more than half of the region's water supplies now come from local conservation, recycling, reclamation and local clean water initiatives, with the remainder imported from Northern California and the Colorado River.

Source: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California