Southern California environment news and trends

Environmentalists seek help from Angelenos to map the city's uncounted small waterways

City of Los Angeles - Aerial mapping

The LA river and its tributary, the Tujunga Wash (under the 405 freeway) are well-known parts of the LA River watershed. The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission is looking for some of the less well known ones.

Today on the radio, I report on a call issued by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission to all Angelenos. They want your creeks and streams: the idea is to improve the city’s protection of these small watweways.

Advocates for the river, for these small waterways, argue that most of L.A.'s little streams are either gone or controlled in pipes and concrete channels. They hope to use new information in planning a stream protection ordinance in the city.

Landscape architect Jessica Hall, a longtime advocate for "daylighting" streams in LA, says the small waterways that remain can be sources of confusion for builders and urban planners."I’ve seen this situation a few times where because the creeks are not mapped," she says, "building and safety officials aren’t aware of their presence and don’t know to take the steps that they need to take to protect the streams when a neighbor comes in and wants to McMansionize their property."

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North Atwater Park is getting ready for its close-up

A sorta hidden gem of a park in north Atwater Village is getting a higher profile today…for the facelift it's been getting for a while. 

 City officials broke ground on a restoration project in late 2010. Joe Linton and the LA Creek Freak team have poked their heads over the fences and documented how the restoration project's going for the last year-plus. (They even wrote a poison pen letter to graffiti loving fools who spray painted on the wall along the river walk.) What's cool about the park is it's not just a park; it's an integral part of the Los Angeles River watershed. A tributary to the river will get to operate as nature intended if everyone sets this up right. 

Today Interior Secretary Salazar (and let's hope, his cowboy hat) are going to be in town to check on progress and talk about the general awesomeness of river redevelopment. The federal government got a hand in helping it last year, when something called the Urban Water Federal Partnership adopted seven local-water-areas (Lake Pontchartrain was another one in my old town). 

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George Wolfe rocks the boat on the LA River

George Wolfe - as an activist, an avid kayaker, a participant in these public tours, and as the founder of LA River Expeditions - occupies a unique spot in the cohort of people who are influencing the LA River's fate. He's not a lawyer or a Corpsman or an elected official. His obligations are to himself and to his cause of helping more Angelenos access the river. 

It's worth checking out the documentary Rock the Boat, or, at the very least, the trailer for the film, for more of George's story:

There years ago, Wolfe set out to prove with a small group of people that the Los Angeles River is navigable. They did, which is something I was surprised to hear Carol Armstrong of the City of Los Angeles tout approvingly. Even though the EPA proved George Wolfe right, at the time, in 2008, police and helicopters circled overhead and showed disapproval for the boaters.

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