By Renee Ridgeley, California Greenin’
Before there was gold in them thar hills, there was water in this here desert.
The Los Angeles River was once a plentiful source of food, water and recreation with oak trees and trout for all. Today, the concrete conduit protects the city from flooding, but to most LA residents it’s just an ugly storm drain or that place where hot rods raced in the movie “Grease.”
The Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan hopes to change that. The plan includes a $1.3 billion make-over that will provide greater accessibility, enhance communities, create green space and still offer flood control.
Little river that could
It’s hard to think of L.A. flooding, but it did… many times. Lives were lost. Communities were destroyed. And a mayor was recalled.
The documentary, “A Concrete River,” by filmmaker Raphael Sbarge, chronicles the river’s complicated history from the 1700s when Native American villages dotted its shores to the 1938 cataclysmic flood that prompted its containment to the 2007 Revitalization Master Plan proposed by the L.A. City Council and then-Mayor Villaraigosa.
Many river advocates, municipal organizations and nonprofits like Green Wish, The L.A. River Corp and Friends of the Los Angeles River all share the vision of seeing the river restored to a place of beauty and recreation.
And, in some areas with natural beds, it’s already happening.
Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR) have been around since 1986. The organization has been finding new ways to get people engaged with the L.A. River.
Fishing derby Sept. 5
On Sept. 5, FOLAR is sponsoring Off Tha’ Hook, a fishing derby. You won’t need a license that day (it’s a U.S. Fish & Wildlife “free day”). There is a registration fee for adults ($50) and a No Cost Kids Fish event.
River Rover is an educational bus for of all ages to learn more about the riparian environment. They also “take the river to the people” through their mobile educational program.
You don’t have to wait for the river redux to take a boat ride. Get on the river in a kayak this summer!
Author and activist Annabelle Gurwitch hosts an annual kayak trip down the river each August. “Once you spend time on the river, you fall in love with it,” Ms. Gurwitch said at the Concrete River screening. “You’ll never think of L.A. in the same way.”
If you prefer to keep your feet dry, FOLAR operates The Frog Spot along the river on the Elysian Valley bike path. It’s a gathering space where one might find a yoga class, a musical performance, have a glass of wine or get your bike repaired. It’s weekends only so check their calendar before you go.
Category: Real Estate