The Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners voted recently to maintain the 1,300-acre Chatsworth Reservoir as a nature preserve. The fate of the land--owned by the Department of Water and Power and home to great horned owls, Canada geese and ancient oak trees--had been in doubt for years, with developers, sports enthusiasts and environmentalists each seeking the property for their own purposes.
Under the new plan, the DWP will set up an advisory committee of educators, homeowners, environmentalists and others, who will help establish guidelines for the preserve’s public use.
DIANE WEDNER asked three area residents about the type of access they would like to see the public have.
CHARLES VAN SCHAAK
Nursery owner, Chatsworth
One hundred years ago, Central Park was created in New York, and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. They’ve been manipulated, with the focus on humans. Valley residents can go anywhere for sports and recreation. The reservoir could be a place where people could go to slow down and learn.
Access to the reservoir could be through resource conservation educators who could lead walks, with information augmented by those who have specialties in birding, botany, geology and archeology. I think the reservoir should be open two days a week, plus weekends. Visitors [should] go inside only with a resource conservation educator.
What’s special about the reservoir is that it’s owned by the city. Yet it has Valley oaks, special plants, and a habitat for animals. The community can be involved in making it a better place. Access should be given to all in the city, for them to learn how to live better with our surroundings.
President, West Hills Property Owners Assn.
As far as access is concerned, the reservoir should be limited. There should be a place off of Valley Circle [Boulevard] where they currently have an entrance. They could have a reception center there for school tours, to give the children a chance to see nature and instruct them in what to do and what not to do. In other words, give them a code of conduct. I would not develop pathways or roads. You might put some stepping stones up to the Indian relics so that people will walk in one place all the time.
That’s all the improvement I think should happen. The main emphasis should be on educating children.
Retired chemical engineer, West Hills
I would like to see the reservoir opened up to similar activities that they have at Hansen Dam, such as walking, running, pets, even boating. It could be like the Sepulveda Basin, which people get tremendous use out of. I’d like to see the reservoir available for skateboarding, and they should develop walking trails and bike trails. They could put a little lake in there for fishing. Let’s not keep it just sagebrush.
If people want nature, they can go to the Santa Monica Mountains or Malibu and enjoy it there. We don’t really need this [preserve]. The people ought to get a break like the coyote and fox.
I do not want a nature center. Let people just come in and roam and enjoy themselves. They should have restrooms to accommodate visitors. Access to the reservoir should be on Fallbrook Avenue. Earthmovers can come in and make room for a parking lot, and they can continue and make a road in there too. I’d limit the hours, closing it at sunset. I would restrict wild parties but still be open to all visitors.
West Hills resident
One of the reasons I moved out here to West Hills in 1964 was because we could see the whitecaps of the water in the reservoir, which was completely full. There used to be thousands of geese that flew over our house on their way there, but since the reservoir was drained, there aren’t nearly as many.
I would love to see the reservoir filled again. I can understand how some of the homeowners on the east side would be upset if it leaked. I also understand that one of the reasons [DWP] didn’t repair it was because there was too much water evaporation before, but I would do anything to see it repaired so that it could be filled again. We’d get more deer and birds. I miss the honkers.