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The agreement now under consideration would designate virtually all of the west side of the Lower Aroyo from the Colorado Street Bridge to the La Loma Bridge for the exclusive use of the archers at all times, even when archers are not present. That's 18 acres.
The southern range (south of the pedestrian bridge) where the PRA holds its classes is used primarily on Saturdays, and on some Sundays when there are tournaments. The northern range (north of the bridge) is supposed to be used only on 13 Sundays a year, but in fact archers shoot on both ranges any time they want. Signs and barriers would be constructed because Pasadena staff maintains that restricting access solely to archers by erecting barriers along the eastern boundary of the entire range is the only way to protect other users from the dangers inherent in this sport.
The general public would be allowed to walk on the barren trail next to the flood channel and on the dusty path along the edge of the archery range, but they would not be allowed to enter the inner trails and spectacular habitat zones in the archery area and towards the toe of the western slope.
Why should the best habitat zone in the Arroyo be restricted to only archers?
Pasadena Roving Archers (PRA) is a private club that interested members of the public can join. But it is not necessary to be a PRA member to use the range. Other archers, not PRA members, can also use the archery range. However just because some members of the public can use the archery range does not make archery a public use.
Public means open and accessible to the general public and not just to a specific interest group. Since the restoration campaigns in the Arroyo in recent decades, there has been an increased demand by other local residents, such as walkers, joggers, dog-walkers, equestrians, bird-watchers and nature-lovers. These Arroyo users, aka: the general public, have been able to enjoy the western side of the Lower Arroyo at least some of the time up until now. The new agreement, now under consideration by the Pasadena City Council, would prohibit access to this beautiful area to the general public at all times and permananetly.
That's not public at all.
It is true that there are other recreational uses in the Arroyo that have reduced the space available to most local residents. That's part of the reason why there is less than a third the amount of park space per capita in Pasadena today than there was 100 years ago. These other recreational uses, however, are not in a designated natural preservation area such as the Lower Arroyo. They are in the Central Arroyo, an area that has historically been set aside for more active recreation.
Archery, unlike walking, bird-watching, jogging and dog-walking, is an active recreational activity that is inconsistent with a natural preservation area.
The neighbors of the Lower Arroyo love that stretch of the Arroyo. Who can blame them? They have done a lot to protect and preserve it over the years. Some of the neighbors property lines extend down the slopes and all the way into the archery range. These property-owners have diligently preserved the native habitat on their land, but they have sometimes been confronted by errant arrows on their property. No one can deny that not all archers follow the rules, yet the PRA and the City of Pasadena do little to enforce the rules.
But opposition to expanding the exclusive use of the western Lower Arroyo is deep and widespread throughout Pasadena and our region. Our petition proves that. It includes the walkers, bird-watchers, joggers, school children, nature-lovers and just plain residents who want to experience nature at its finest in an urban setting. They recognize that archers are but a tiny minority of the people who love the Arroyo and that the most precious habitat should not be reserved for their exclusive enjoyment.
Let's end the invective and name-calling. The real issues are nature perservation, safety and public access to public land.
When the archers first came to this part of the Lower Arroyo, it was a dry, barren field robbed of its rich riparian and oak woodland habitat by the massive flood channel that dissects the area. The big improvements in habitat came from the stream and habitat restoration projects pursued by the Arroyo Seco Foundation and the City of Pasadena in the 1990s.
The archers have degraded the quality of habitat in the Lower Arroyo by trampling on and removing trees, shrubs and habitat for their targets, paths, and corridors. Rodent poison set out by the archers has been introduced into the foodchain of Arroyo wildlife, causing the loss of significant numbers of hawks and owls that used to be common in the area. They have created barren islands in the midst of the richest habitat in the urban part of the Arroyo Seco.
Pasadena Roving Archers has expanded their archery facilities, often at the expense of the spectacular natural habitat there.
Fortunately there haven't been any serious accidents on the archery range, although we have personally witnessed near-misses and dangerous and threatening actions taken by archers. PRA should be commended for their safety training, but not all the archers belong to PRA or follow all the rules that have been carefully set out. Neither PRA nor the City of Pasadena have the resources to police the archery range adequately. Ironically that has become part of the justification for restricting the area for exclusive use: it's too dangerous to allow the public to enjoy it.
The new agreement would require that PRA carry minimal liability insurance, but it is clear that it is the City of Pasadena, as the "deep pockets," that will be liable for any serious accident. That could be very expensive for Pasadena taxpayers.