Help Preserve Wildlife Corridors

About Cottonwood Canyon

Cottonwood Canyon is very valuable for several key reasons:

  • There is a spring on the property that flows year-round into the Arroyo Seco.  Dense woodland shade helps retain this water.
  • The spring-fed canyon is relatively secluded and untouched, making it a prime refuge for wildlife and plants in the otherwise dry hillsides.
  • The land and the spring of Cottonwood Canyon were precious to early Native Americans who had lived near there for centuries.  19th-century settlers in Pasadena called the area, now known as Linda Vista, "Indian Flats."
  • Cottonwood Canyon and Salvia Canyon were the principal water sources for the area. The Cottonwood Canyon Water Company was incorporated there in 1892 and dispersed the water to a large segment of northwestern Pasadena.
  • The undeveloped canyon property habitat connects at the lower end with a linear, north-south trending slope of wild vegetation at the west edge of the golf course. This slope and the adjacent Arroyo Seco run north to meet the Hahamongna Watershed Park under the 210 Freeway, serving as a linkage corridor for passage of large and mid-sized wildlife, as verified in the field by AFC staff and biologist-advisors.  In addition, the upper, west end of the property connects with an expanded open space leading into the higher San Rafael Hills to the west and south.  This robust unobstructed habitat is rare in the greater Pasadena area.
  • Wildlife observed by AFC volunteers on site: Mule Deer are commonly observed, including one crossing Linda Vista Avenue just north of the property heading downslope; native Big-eared Woodrats are very common as evidenced by at least 10 nests; a Red-tailed Hawk was photographed perched at the canyon edge;  Great Horned Owls use the property as evidenced by at least one large owl pellet collected on site; a Spotted Owl was spotted by Jan Long and spent several days in the canyon eating woodrats and escaping frome the heat of the summer; a Bobcat was observed near the bottom of the property and a resident had a lengthy stare down with a Mountain Lion in 2013. The habitat should support numerous species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians typical of the four dominant plant communities.  As of January, 2015, biologists have identified 47 species of birds in, or seen from, the canyon.
  • The Fuchsia-flowered Gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) (10 plants seen) indicates a cool, coastal-influenced climate in this one canyon; the plant is uncommon locally and is not generally found in the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains.
  • All four major plant communities found in the Pasadena and Altadena foothills are present on the property:  Southern Oak Woodland, Coastal Sage Scrub, Chaparral and Streamside Riparian.  The vegetation overall is in excellent and undisturbed condition.
  • AFC has developed a Land Priority Matrix to evaluate and prioritize properties for potential purchase. It is designed to impartially rate properties based on site visits and research, and to compare them for targeted acquisition.  The Matrix utilizes a scoring system weighted for rare or critical wildlife and plants; the presence of corridors for wildlife; the presence of diminished habitat types (Riparian, Coastal Sage Scrub, Oak Woodlands); watershed values; proximity to existing trails and public access; and archeology.  Two biologists independently scored Cottonwood Canyon with very high preservation value; their completed matrixes are available on request.

Click here to link to a video interview with AFC Board member Tim Martinez about the need to preserve Cottonwood Canyon.