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Toads hold up mud removal from Devil’s Gate Dam

July 15, 2011 | 10:12 am

DevilsgateThe removal of 25,000 cubic yards of sediment from the basin behind Devil's Gate Dam has been put on hold until August in order to prevent the destruction of a habitat for toads.

Work was set to begin last week but Pasadena officials decided to postpone the job pending further environmental review after Hahamongna Watershed Park users complained that Johnson Field, the area in which the dirt was to be temporarily stored, was home to a large number of toads that would be smothered underneath the piles of dirt, the La Canada Valley Sun reported.

Johnson Field, an unused Pasadena groundwater restoration basin, was selected as an alternative to trucking the dirt past the southern end of the JPL parking lot, through Altadena, then east along the Foothill (210) Freeway to a fill area in Irwindale.

The city will reconsider the issue in August after standing water in Johnson Field dries out and the amphibians, members of common western toad species, leave for other grounds, according to Pasadena City Engineer Dan Rix.

"There was a concern with toads that use the area early in the summertime, but our biologists are telling us the toads move out of the area once it dries out, and that should be around the end of the month," said Chris Stone, assistant deputy director of the public works department's Water Resources Division. "We're hoping that at that point the city gives us a permit."

County officials say sediment must be removed from around the dam face to prevent valves and other dam works from possibly clogging up during winter rains.

The project is the initial step in a larger plan to ultimately remove about 1.5-million cubic yards of mud and debris, most of it deposited after the August 2009 Station fire.

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-- Joe Piasecki, Times Community News

Photo: The L.A. County Public Works Dept. wants to excavate the area behind the Devil's Gate Dam in Pasadena. Credit: Raul Roa / Times Community News

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