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SCOPE Wants to Preserve the Santa Clara River

March 06, 1994

* James Harter's letter (Feb. 21) leaves the impression that the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment (SCOPE) is trying to hamstring poor family farmers trying to save their citrus groves from the Santa Clara River running wild. Yet Mr. Harter is a senior vice president of a firm which used yards and yards of concrete to channelize a portion of Bouquet Creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara, without bothering to obtain the necessary permits.

We are not talking about sandbags stemming a flood's sudden overflow. We are talking about expensively engineered concrete structures, costing millions of dollars, so that a major developer can build condominiums on what would otherwise be a natural flood plain.

Some of these structures Mr. Harter's firm favors have concrete bottoms, as does the Los Angeles River. They have all the bucolic charm of a nuclear power plant and they prevent local recharge of our aquifers. These channels narrow the floodway and increase flow velocities, causing erosion problems for property owners downstream.

The Santa Clara River is a significant ecological area, habitat to rare and endangered species, and the last significant (mostly) unchannelized river in Los Angeles County. SCOPE is committed to preserving the river in its natural form.

If Mr. Harter's firm is willing to remove some of its concrete monstrosities, we will be less likely to object to permits for sandbags or earthen berms to protect the citrus groves. Until we see that concession, we assert that Newhall Land's plans to channelize the Santa Clara with massive concrete flood control "improvements" should be subject to an objective federal environmental impact statement.

MICHAEL A. KOTCH

Canyon Country

Kotch is president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment.

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