Tujunga Ponds Nature Preserve is Neglected

by David DeMullé

The Tujunga Ponds Nature Preserve, which a few years ago was visited by thousands of schoolchildren each year, has deteriorated to the point that it is nearly not worth visiting. Located on the 10700 block of Foothill Blvd., it’s not easy to find if for most.

And at the present time, the county which is responsible for taking care of the nature preserve isn’t doing much about it. During the past few years the Tujunga Nature Preserve has been marred by garbage, destruction of the trees and graffiti, said Judy Howard, a past member of the Small Wilderness Area Preservation group.

Trees have been cut down, and whole sections of fencing surrounding the preserve has been ripped out, creating easy access for off-road bikes, she said. And then someone introduced water hyacinths into the streams have completely choked the surface of the ponds preventing wildlife from getting to the water.

The sanctuary was built in 1978 to replace wetlands that were destroyed by construction of the Foothill Freeway. Caltrans was originally responsible for its maintenance, but the California Fish and Game Department turned it over to the L.A. Department of Parks and Recreation.

The timing couldn’t have been worse because county funds began declining after passage of Proposition 13. And, in part because the Tujunga preserve was forced on the county, the county never budgeted any money for it. In talking with a past Nature Center representative, he said “Fish & Game said that if the preserve wasn’t managed correctly, they’d take it back. Well, we tried to give it back but they wouldn’t take it.”

The preserve made news a couple of years back when a transient was found to have built a complete cabin in the preserve with stove and refrigerator, lighting and even fire extinguishers. The entire camp was painted camouflage colors and blended in for more than three years. The majority of people who visit the preserve are horsemen who follow the meandering streams. More to come in a future story.

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