Quick Mends: City Council approves Pilot Recreational Zone Program

PADDLE UP: The L.A. Conservation Corps guides a group through still waters and overhanging willows. (Jim Burns)
PADDLE UP: The L.A. Conservation Corps guides a group through still waters and overhanging willows. (Jim Burns)

The Los Angeles City Council voted yesterday to approve the first recreational zone on the Los Angeles River.

The motion passed in an amended form over the objections raised in public meetings about adequate neighborhood parking and the rights of dog owners to walk their pets along the river’s bank in the defined area. Beginning Memorial Day through Labor Day, riverside residents, as well as visiting kayakers and others, will judge how successful, or lacking, the program is.

It was a clear victory for Councilmember Ed Reyes’s office, which looked to expand the recreational use of the river after the success of last summer’s Paddle the L.A. River program farther north in the San Fernando Valley. Expect signage, provided in collaboration with KCET, a shuttle to get kayakers from parking near Confluence Park to the put in, and, finally, a single entity, the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority, to enforce the rules, instead of L.A.P.D. Also, expect the MRCA to be looking for a valid freshwater fishing license if you’ve got a rod in the water.

Although generally supportive of the zone, the Department of Fish and Game remains cautious going forward.

“In general, yes, we would support the recreational zone, but the devil is in the details, senior biologist Dwayne Maxwell said via email. “The development of a recreational zone has the potential to improve some of the habitat characteristics of this reach of the Los Angeles River.  We are having some difficulty, however, seeing this water as a plantable trout water.  The number of exotic fish species and the potential high bank and water-oriented uses of the river probably would not make it a high priority sport fishing water.”

The amendments included:

— Clarify that the pilot recreational zone program consists of the ElysianValley area south of Fletcher Drive, from Rattlesnake Park to Egret Park;

— Recognize that the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA),the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers, the Los Angeles County and the City have mutually agreed to conditions that satisfy all concerns for the operation of the pilot recreational zone program;

— Grant the MRCA authority to manage the designated recreational zone area and utilize the MRCA Park Ordinance to regulate park and public trust doctrine activities.

Now we’ll see how this all plays out.

See you on the river, Jim Burns



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