My SoCal Garden

Visiting Peck Road Water Conservation Park

By Steve Thomas-Patel·
Mungi Lake at Peck Road Water Conservation Park

Built over old quarry land and along the San Gabriel River watershed, this is an active community park that features demonstrations of native plants and bioswales.

Peck Road Water Conservation Park is an active community park that features a native plants. It's a little hidden and would definitely be easy to miss driving by. I dropped by on a Monday morning and saw what looked like a sizeable Tai Chi class, a man off on his own fishing, and numerous people exploring the trails. Yet much of the park was vacant. It's a large space, mostly made up of bare dirt.


The park is built on the channels created by the Army Corps of Engineers when they channeled the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo Rivers and later. The lake was formed by quarrying.

Clearly a lot of work has been done to bring a natural feel to the place. I want to say restoration, but the land here has been thoroughly put through the ringers. Whatever is there, or will be there, is clearly a creation that started nearly from scratch once the quarries had finished.

It's clear, when you look at parts of the earth there that have not been "restored" or enhanced for exhibition or other use, or along the waterfront. The ground is white and lifeless but for a few brave pioneer plants.


My primary question going into my visit here was to find what they were doing to call it a "Water Conservation Park". Not far from the parking lot there is a bioswale. Bioswales collect water and attemp to let it absorb slowly into the ground. That way it is not channeled out to be eventually lost to the ocean.

The signage, for the most part, is in good shape. They have thorough descriptions of native plants, native pollinators, the value of bioswales and the native tribes that once inhabited the area.

Peck Road Water Conservation Park is part of a larger project of parks, the Emerald Necklace, which involves greening the urban landscape between the San Gabriel mountains and the ocean.

This is also a functioning community park. Although geographically it is closer to most of El Monte, it belongs to the city of Arcadia. It could just as easily be considered to be serving the communities in Irwindale and Monrovia as well.


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