One of the most iconic features of the state of New Hampshire was its Old Man, a facial image on a cliff that was so unique to the state that it appeared on the state coin. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_hampshire)
Then on May 3, 2003 it collapsed. Since then the loss has been deeply mourned. Efforts to reconstruct it or to create other monuments to replicate it or remind visitors of what was lost have continued until today. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Man_of_the_Mountain)
Southern California has its icons, most of them man-made, such as the Hollywood sign and our Observatory. But we have one spectacular feature that is entirely natural and has long been an emblem of its area and gives its name to a town: Eagle Rock, which since 1962 has been a Cultural Heritage site. Visible from the 134 Freeway, the eagle gazes into Schoal Canyon, watching over the steady lines of garbage trucks entering the dump site.
Soon, our cherished Eagle Rock will partially collapse. The Rock is a dome of cemented gravel and stream stones, laid down in an ancient shallow sea. Its eye was formed in the distant past by a partial collapse of a portion of the side, forming a eyebrow-like overhang. For several years a lone plant has tenuously held on, its roots eking out life among the cracks of the formation. Plants and roots do their destruction slowly, but inexorably; witness the cracks in sidewalks or the many ancient tropical temples reduced to rubble by encroaching trees.
The plant, growing out of the eagle’s eyebrow
With some up-coming rainfall this plants roots will grow again, as they have done for the last few years and their crevice will enlarge, weakening the overhanging eyebrow and causing its collapse. Our eagle will become blind.
Handwringing and blame pointing is a useful task. It accomplishes the purpose of making public officials appear to be actively engaged in their task of governing the populace. Proactive actions do not serve the same useful purpose. Spending public moneys on what some may consider “decorations”, while homeless go hungry and potholes damage tires appears to be a waste, that is until the true costs of the loss of a beloved icon becomes known.
Millions were spent on restoration of the Hollywood sign, more on cleaning the dome of our observatory, our beloved sidewalk stars are restored and polished by crews of our public works. Perhaps someone should bring out the hedge clippers and save our Eagle Rock.
The 1962 commemorative plaque declaring Eagle Rock as a cultural heritage