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STILL FIGHTING AGAINST ARUNDO.

Byline: Patricia Farrell Aidem Staff Writer

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST - The U.S. Forest Service will pay the county nearly $100,000 to continue a long-term effort to rid the Santa Clara River of a pesky nonnative plant called arundo donax, under the terms of an agreement recommended for approval this week.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on the extension of a contract under which experts from the county agriculture department will attack the arundo that has invaded the river in Soledad Canyon and in San Francisquito Creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara.

Arundo - a bamboo-like plant that grows to 20 feet high - has been in this country for hundreds of years, brought here as ornamental vegetation. But it has become a serious pest, soaking up water from riverbeds, drying into forest fire fuel over summer and choking out native plants while changing the habitats of wildlife.

The Forest Service sought help from the county a year ago to remove the arundo in the Angeles National Forest riverbeds. The weed grows from the river's headwaters in Acton to its terminus at the coast near Oxnard. In fact, arundo was blamed in part for the quick spread of last year's wildfire that was nearly contained near Val Verde but quickly raced down the riverbed toward Santa Paula, fueling flames that spread from Moorpark back to Stevenson Ranch.

The agriculture department and Forest Service hope to extend the contract to March. The work is tedious because the roots are large and quickly spread, resprouting downstream. After removal, roots must be quickly treated to avoid reseeding.

Touting the crew as ``highly efficient and experienced,'' Robert G. Atkins, interim agricultural commissioner for the county, is urging the supervisors to continue the program.

At the same time, Ventura County is leading an effort to remove arundo from the river between the city of Santa Clarita and the coast. The work, officials there say, should begin upstream to limit the spread of arundo.

Patricia Farrell Aidem, (661) 257-5251

pat.aidem(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 4, 2004
Words:342
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