CARBON COUNTY CHRONICLE 4-1-18 Air tour photos of

Apr 30, 2018

Air Tour Photos of Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor

Last Sunday, I was given the privilege of taking an airplane tour, courtesy of Hills for Everyone, which works to preserve open space in the Puente Hills and Chino Hills, and Ecoflight, which does air tours as part of assiting in preservation of land and habitat, of the Chino Hills and Puente Hills ranges.

The flight, including city council members from Yorba Linda and Brea, left Chino Airport at 8:30 a.m. for a tour heading west along the northern portion of the hill ranges through Chino Hills, Diamond Bar, and Rowland Heights as far as Hacienda Heights and then returning east through the southern section of the two systems through La Habra Heights, Brea, Yorba Linda and then back to Chino.

Our pilot Bruce Gordon made the flight smooth and easy as we cruised along at what I think was about 2,000 feet in elevation and Melanie Schlotterbeck of Hills for Everyone did a great job narrating what we were seeing along the corridor.

Fortunately, we'd had some recent rain to provide some relief to what had been a dismal winter with virtually no precipitation, so that, by the time we took to the skies last week, there was enough green to really add to the beauty of the area.

Over 400 photographs were snapped in the course of the roughly half-hour journey because, after all, how often do these opportunities arise?  The chance to get rare elevated views of our area was really a treat and the accompanying photos give some idea of the beauty of these two hill ranges and what past preservation and future efforts to conserve land mean for our heavily urbanized area.

The first photograph (from the top) shows the eastern entrance to Carbon Canyon Road from Chino Hills Parkway as the state highway wends its way westward towards Brea.  The Summit Ranch, Carriage Hills and Western Hills Oaks communities are easily discerned.

The second image shows a nice panorama of the northern part of Chino Hills from Grand Avenue a little west of Peyton Drive and takes in many of the subdivisions there, but also much of Tres Hermanos Ranch, owned by the City of Industry, in the distance as the view looks southwest.

Photo #3 takes in much of Tres Hermanos Ranch from its northern reaches near Diamond Ranch High School, the land for which was donated by Industry to the Pomona Unified School District to the school which serves south Pomona and north Diamond Bar (part f which is at the upper right.)  Grand Avenue cuts through the ranch from left to right and the Arnold Reservoir is towards the upper left.

An interesting view from over the 57 Freeway looking south from the southern part of Diamond Bar takes in the break Tonner Canyon (at the left) and the Puente Hills region that is known as the Shell-Aera area and which is subject to a new development proposal.

Melanie made sure to point out a gem in the Shell Aera location, a spot appropriately called Hidden Valley and which is the highlight of the fifth photograph in this set, which looks south from near Pathfinder Road in Rowland Heights/Diamond Bar.

Image number six shows portions of Rowland Heights at the bottom with an area of the Puente Hills that, at the center left, included a development that was allowed to be built at the crest of the hills impacting the wildlife corridor and complicating efforts to preserve open space habitat.  Yet, to the center and upper right are sections that were preserved as part of the Puente Hills Native Habitat Authority, including some fine hiking trails.

The seventh photo shows the densely developed unincorporated community of Hacienda Heights which is at the north side of the Puente Hills, though, again, land has been preserved and trails built along the crest of the hills through the community out to Rose Hills Memorial Park at the west end of the hills.

Photo #8 shows the highest portions of the Puente Hills from the south with much of La Habra Heights, including the Hacienda Golf Club in the foregound and into the hills.

The ninth image shows much of the Shell Aera property in the hills above Brea looking to the north.  Proposals are for a staggering 3,600 residences between Harbor Boulevard on the west and the 57 Freeway on the east.  The effects would not just be on the lost habitat and recreational opportunities for hiking and walking, but on the already-congested streets and freeways of the communities (La Habra, Brea, Rowland Heights, and Diamond Bar) that adjoin the property.

Photo ten takes in the 57 Freeway corridor from about Lambert north into Diamond Bar, City of Industry and beyond.  Again, Shell Aera is at the upper left and Tonner Canyon, proposed in recent years for a reservoir/dam and solar farm, is at the right.

The remaining photos continued the flight eastward, with a fine view of Carbon Canyon's western end near the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center; a look at the entrance to the state park at the Rimcrest trailhead; a view of the park including the Rolling M Ranch headquarters; land flanking the park at the east that is being sought for acquisition, preservation and addition to the park; and a view of the area near Prado Dam and the intersection of the 71 and 91 freeways with the Santa Ana Mountains forming a great backdrop.

We then returned over the Prado basin, Santa Ana River and the rapidly developing areas of Corona, South Ontario and Eastvale before making our descent and landing at the airport.  Again, many thanks to Hills for Everyone and Ecoflight for this rare opportunity to see the beauty of the Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor from the air, which only adds to the appreciation of what this corridor can do to improve the quality of life for our area.