Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Photo Essay: Hacienda Heights Trails, Landfill Adjacent

Near the city of La Puente in the San Gabriel Valley, in the unincorporated bedroom community of Hacienda Heights, there's a habitat preserve in the Puente Hills...



...that's right next to a landfill. And basically right on top of it.



Sound familiar?



It is also oil adjacent, and relics from the old oil drilling days - which aren't currently active, but are likely far from over - can still be seen.



But for now, the Hacienda Heights trailhead leads you up and along the rolling hills that overlook the surrounding valley communities...



...with plenty of shade...


...until you reach its peak...



...where power lines and other industrial reminders form a boundary...



...between wildlife preserve...



...and waste management.



The Skyline Trail takes you along the landfill...






...but we diverted down the Native Oak Trail...







...which finally led us into a shady grove of oak trees, indigenous to the Los Angeles area.



Although LA is more popularly associated with palm trees (which were imported into California)...



...the various species of oak allowed California's native peoples to thrive...



...and made the LA area an inviting place to settle.



Now, relegated mostly to preserves and trails like this one, the oaks seem more ornamental than functional (no one is filling their diet with ground acorns anymore)...



...and the remaining ones have fallen victim to vandals, with their paints and knives.



Many of LA's streets, communities, and landmarks derived their names from the oak - not the least of which Thousand Oaks, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Oakwood...



Unfortunately, over time, much of LA's native oak trees have been cleared for development, or have succumbed to disease.  (Or, in the case of Encino's Lang Oak, torrential El NiƱo rains.)



The landfill at Puente Hills is actually one of the country's largest, and - unlike the piles of trash of days gone by - is covered with earth daily. It's also constantly monitored for pollutants and any leakage of gasses (like methane).

But walking up and over those hills, through the trees, you'd kind of never know.

Further Reading:
The Oak Trees of Southern California: A Brief History (KCET / L.A. As Subject)
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