September 2019

Canyon Beat:

Bridges and Rocks II: the sequel

​​By Scott Breeden

In our last episode, Orange County Public Works (OCPW) had begun installing fresh rocks under bridges, like the Kitterman bridge in Silverado, to stop erosion in the creek. Those rocks were brought in to replace the rocks and cement that OCPW installed in 2017 to stop erosion in the creek.

But now someone has accused OCPW of not replacing the rocks correctly. According to Reg Renaud, who owns a business near the Kitterman bridge, the county should grout large rocks in place under the bridge so they don’t wash downstream.  But—wasn’t grout what the county used last time?

Yes and no. Renaud says that last time, the contractor covered everything under the bridge—large rocks as well as pea gravel added for equipment ramps—with too much cement. Water then rushed over the cement and eroded away the pea gravel underneath, endangering the bridge abutments.  Renaud says that the pea gravel should have been removed, and large rocks grouted in place with the top half exposed, like a rock wall with visible rocks, to slow down water. He calculates that three tons of water could press against rocks under the Kitterman bridge, and since none of the new rocks are that heavy, they’ll wash away and need to be replaced again.

According to Renaud, the current contractor admitted that what they were doing wasn’t really correct, and a county inspector agreed, but the county said that they were following CalTrans specifications.  Renaud calls that “passing the buck,” saying that someone should “do the math” to solve the problem correctly.
The OC bridge maintenance department reportedly met with Renaud and other concerned citizens Aug. 5, due to a complaint being filed. He expects there will be an investigation, and that it will take a while.

Newsreel and coming attractions
At the Aug. 6 Inter-Canyon League meeting, Geoff Sarkissian noted some generator options for anyone thinking about preparing for the next planned, or unplanned, power outage. Choices include 1,000-watt generators costing $120 for “favorite appliances,” up to 7,500-watt “whole house” solutions for $4,775 or more that might require an electrician.

Connie Nelson organized a potluck to recruit Canyon Watch volunteers, who patrol local roads during high fire conditions, watching out for danger or suspicious activity. Bic Edwards volunteered to be the new scheduler for Silverado, with husband Keith helping with the radio repeater. Emily Graham will continue running Modjeska’s Fire Watch, with Cle Robinson babysitting the portable radios for now.

The next “Fire and Ice” presentation will take place Sept. 19. Fire is what attendees of this free event will learn how to prevent. Ice is ice cream, also free.
The Sept. 22 Modjeska Art and Wine bash will be a three-canyon fundraiser this year, benefiting not only Modjeska Ranch Rescue’s animals, but also the Silverado Children’s Center and the Trabuco Canyon-based Vera’s Sanctuary, a nonprofit that helps troubled teens and young women. Art, wine tasting, live music, and a silent auction can be enjoyed for a $25 donation. More details are at 

The Silverado Modjeska Recreation and Park District (SMRPD) is accepting objects for possible inclusion in a time capsule. Items can be dropped off at the Silverado market for at least another couple of weeks, with ultimate capsule contents and location to be determined later.

OC Parks will celebrate Madame Modjeska’s 179th birthday Sept. 28 with a free Shakespeare performance and open house (with Polish treats) at her home. Call (949) 923-2230 for reservations, or see for more information.

The court ruling reversing approval of a Red Rock Gardens event center in Santiago Canyon is being appealed by the property owner, but not by the county.
Snack bar (for birds, anyway)

Many colorful, show-offy wildflowers have called it quits for the summer, but other canyon plants are still quietly following their own less-conspicuous blossoming schedule.

In a few open, dry patches along Santiago Canyon Road near Irvine Lake, you might notice low, round clumps of light grey-green foliage. That is dove weed, or doveweed, also called turkey mullein. It is an annual, native to most of California and the west.  Each plant typically grows as a separate mound a few inches high, but sometimes over three feet in diameter.