Wildlife Relocated During Lake Drain in Rancho Cucamonga

Red Hill Park Lake in Rancho Cucamonga revealed bits of history and mystery

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two guns and a police badge are among the items found since workers began draining the picturesque Red Hill Lake in Rancho Cucamonga. Tony Shin reports from Rancho Cucamonga for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 19, 2014. (Published Monday, May 19, 2014)

    Despite it being empty, residents are still stopping by to see Red Hill Park Lake.

    "This is a little depressing to not see it there," said Rebecca Alvarez, of Rancho Cucamonga.

    Built in 1987, the man-made lake has been an important backdrop for thousands of special moments.

    "High school dance pictures, family pictures, Christmas pictures," said Shari Sparn. "A lot of my family comes here for the photography."

    City leaders decided to drain it in part because of pollution. Much of it, this horrible looking and smelling sludge.

    So far workers have also found a lot of strange items in it, including an LAPD badge and two guns, including a .38 caliber special.

    "Four dozen cellphones at this point, cameras, batteries, remote controlled cars, skateboards, some bicycles," said Bill Wittkopf, a public works depatrment services director.

    And wildlife, including dozens of fish, and more than 100 turtles.

    All of them are now being carefully moved to other safe locations. Biologists say they were dumped here over the years by locals.

    "In essence the locals kind of loved it to death," said Deana Vitela Hayashi, a biologist. "And they brought too many animals."

    But some residents are worried about the lake's future.

    "I like the fact that they're cleaning it, but I don't like that they're taking the lake away," said Leslie van Zant.

    The lake in its current condition costs the city about $50,000 to $70,000 a year to maintain.

    It's unclear what will happen to it.

    But the deputy city manager promises there will be water here and it will be efficient and beautiful.

    "We got to save money where we can," said Lori Sassoon, a deputy city manager. "We have drought conditions. We need to save water where we can. It'll be a smarter lake."

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