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“Big Dig” Settlement Limits Devil’s Gate Dam Project

A tractor prepares to haul away a freshly-cut eucalyptus tree from the sediment-choked Devil's Gate Dam reservoir on Nov. 28, 2018. (Sharon McNary/LAist)
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Devil’s Gate Dam keeps the rain that falls on parts of the San Gabriel Mountains from flooding downstream communities along the Arroyo Seco channel, from Pasadena to the Los Angeles River.

Rains that followed the 2009 Station Fire washed more than a million cubic yards of ash and debris into the reservoir below the dam. All that sediment reduced the capacity of the dam to hold back floodwater, so it needed to come out.

But in 2014, environmentalists with the Pasadena Audubon Society and the Arroyo Seco Foundation sued over the scope of the plan. They said its 50-acre footprint was so big it would strip out too much of the forest-like growth, birds and other wildlife that had come to occupy the acreage behind the dam.

The scaled-back plan to remove trees and shrubs began in 2018, and the ongoing dirt removal work started last year. The pushback by the groups also led to the county using cleaner trucks.

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The project is expected to be completed in 2023.


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