Environment & Science

Hundreds gather for first weekend of LA River cleanup

This file photo shows volunteers gathering to clean up the LA River. The Friends of the LA River have been doing this for 27 years, and Saturday marked the first weekend of this year's cleanup.
This file photo shows volunteers gathering to clean up the LA River. The Friends of the LA River have been doing this for 27 years, and Saturday marked the first weekend of this year's cleanup.
Friends of the LA River

Glendale Narrows River Walk witnessed hundreds of volunteers descend upon it Saturday for first weekend of the Great LA River Cleanup, the effort from Friends of the LA River that has spanned decades.

This marks the 27th year of the cleanup, and Chris Fleming of the Friends of the LA River told KPCC that the number of volunteers has been steadily growing.

"We're expecting more volunteers because of El Nino ... last year, there was 6,000, the year before that was 3,000, this year we’re expecting 9,000," Fleming said, adding that roughly 400 to 600 volunteers are expected at the Glendale site alone after typically attracting 300 volunteers or less.

The group plans to target 15 sites over the span of three weekends, so anyone interested in helping out who couldn't make it Saturday can also look into April 23 and April 30 for their chance. Volunteers will be targeting four sites this weekend ranging from Canoga Park to the Glendale River Walk.

It's too early for any figures on how much trash could be picked up turing the cleanup, but the items volunteers have found in years past include things like plastic bags, shopping carts and even a wedding cake topper. Fleming says last year, the site at Sepulveda Basin yielded about seven tons of trash.

Fleming said the Friends of the LA River are starting the cleanup now as a preemptive strike ahead of the river's recreation season.

"We do it in advance of the time people are going to be hiking, kayaking, biking, walking — that way we have a better river for everybody during peak use," he said.