The LA River – Its Future Flows

Are you aware we have a 50 mile long river that runs from the San Fernando Valley to the ocean to Long Beach? Some of you are aware of it, though you may not hold it in the best regard thinking it’s filled with trash and pollutants. But many people are not even aware of that and are definitely not aware of why the river became not a river.

Originally the river provided water for the city and was a natural habitat for birds and bears, but in the late 1930s the Army Corp of Engineers initiated a flood control project and became 80% cement. With all that cement, it didn’t look like a river anymore. Add to that fences and signs keeping visitors out, barely any water and the negative perceptions and disinterest become clearly apparent.

Fortunately these long held perceptions and the state of the river are changing. What’s important to know now is that in 2007 the city adopted the LA River Revitalization Master Plan and that this past July, the  Environmental Protection Agency declared the frequently trash-strewn, graffitied and much-derided river, to be a “traditional navigable water”. This was an important step toward rejuvenating the river and its reputation. This allows the river to be a river and be treated like a river, not just tributary to the ocean.

Today, the nonprofit organization, Friends of the Los Angeles River, is educating locals and visitors on the state of the river today with river tours and carpools that take you down its banks and through the cities that surround it.

In the past, people may not have wanted to live close to the river and why would they its past perceptions and realities, but today when you take a look at the 18 month revitalization plan, there are reason’s to think twice.

On December 6th, a new 2.5 mile extension that runs through Elysian Valley opened and connects to the northeast corner of Griffith Park creating a cycling, running and walking path of about 7.2 miles in length.

What’s great is that KCET created a living map of all the paths that currently exist surround the river. Here’s a screen shot, but here’s the link to the editable map.

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