Many organizations – private, non-profit and government – are teaming up to renew and revitalize the Los Angeles River, once the life source of this city. They imagine a natural green space with parks lining sections of it from the headwaters in Canoga Park through downtown on its way to Long Beach and out into the Pacific. Already there is a bike path that runs alongside much of the first half of its route.
Large sections of the river were lined in concrete as a flood prevention measure by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930s, but there are many natural sections with ample plant and bird life. And although flood control is still a concern and will have to be mitigated as things move forward, plans are in place to remove much of the concrete. Besides looking nicer and bringing the community closer to the natural habitat in the center of the city, doing this will allow more water to seep back into the aquifers underground, replenishing the city’s much-needed water supply rather than being rushed to the ocean as quickly as possible.
Over the past seven weekends, a select few Angelenos got to do what was once unthinkable: they drifted in canoes and kayaks down the Los Angeles River. The Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC) received a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers – Los Angeles, and started “Paddle the LA River.” Boats launched in the Sepulveda Recreation Basin near Balboa Park, and cruisers spent a couple of hours traveling about 1.5 miles down a truly peaceful and natural portion of the river – the first (legal) trip of its kind in decades (citizens are not allowed access to the river, with or without a boat).
LACC partnered with Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR) and other local organizations to make this program happen. Just last summer, the river was determined to be “navigable” at the federal level by the EPA, which was a critical step in moving closer a “swimmable, fishable and boatable river,” which is FOLAR’s stated goal, and one they have working toward for 25 years.
The final trips take place this weekend (September 24th and 25th). The program has been a huge success; all trips sold out the first day. A certified guide leads each group of 10 boaters twice daily (Saturdays and Sundays), and a ranger from the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) accompanies them as well. They hope to continue this program on a larger scale next year.
To see the master revitalization plan, and to learn more River facts, visit here.