Public comment period for L.A. River alternatives begins tomorrow

SAY "CHEESE": Wihelmina, age 5, holds the fish, while father Peirce takes the snap and sister, Ursula, age 4, looks on. (Peirce)
SAY “CHEESE”: Wihelmina, age 5, holds the fish, while father Peirce takes the snap and sister, Ursula, age 4, looks on. (Peirce)

Tomorrow is the big day for the long-awaited release of the ARBOR study and its four alternatives to remake the L.A. River. It’s also a chance for you to weigh in, by reviewing the alternatives, then going to the Corps’ website to comment.

I began this blog as an obscure homage to our river and its fish some two and a half years ago, but this summer traffic spiked to just shy of 35,000 hits. Even I’m pretty amazed (in a good way!) at the buzz and comments lariverflyfishing has received. I’d like to think it’s because of my stylish reporting, but, in truth, it’s because a flood of big federal money is coming and people are excited by what the future could hold. As I wrote last month:

“At stake is how much money the federal government is willing to put into implementing an ecosystem

restoration that could possibly remake the Los Angeles River into a vital part of the city. Last week, the

Los Angeles City Council made it officially known that it wanted to see the biggest package possible, that’s

$1 billion (Alternative 20), which would be spent on the river from Glendale Narrows to downtown, an

11-mile area. There are three other “best buy” alternatives that will be spelled soon-to-be-released report,

each with a lesser price tag.”

Interest from many has been very keen as well. We’ve had the L.A. Weekly weigh in on what it says is the conflict between the Los Angeles Army Corps and higher-ups in Washington, D.C.; we’ve had powerful pols wax poetic about the river’s perfumed waters, with both Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Rep. Adam Schiff (D, Burbank) putting some eloquent thoughts down on digital paper.  Even the lifestyle mag Sunset featured a spread in its print version.

So, amid all the excitement, the day finally arrives tomorrow when Angelinos can sound off about the direction they believe the river should go. My hope is that along with the inevitable commercialization, some areas will be left as sanctuaries for wildlife as well as for those who want to be among them. I hope fly fishing — fishing, in general — will remain a viable option; and that the many birds nesting in Glendale Narrows will be given the habitat they need not only to survive, but to thrive. And, let’s get the lead out and do some kayaking. There have been some wonderful stories about kids who dipped a paddle for the first time in our river. I advocate a multi-use, multi-purpose river that is safe during the dry season, with adequate signage, parks and, importantly, law enforcement patrols, one in which a single legal jurisdiction calls the shots.

And, I hope as well that the river reclamation by residents who live close by its banks will continue. Many were amazed at the positive hyper-local response to the Los Angeles River Pilot Recreation Zone. When gangs are forced out, families come in.

As we all move forward into the uncertain future, one thing is sure: change, the river will. Let’s make it the right change.

See you on the river, Jim Burns


2 thoughts on “Public comment period for L.A. River alternatives begins tomorrow”

  1. Nice article, congrats on the 35,000 passers-by!
    A lot could be done with 1 BILLION dollars, let’s hope it is used wisely.

  2. Jim,

    I second your considerate thought that the opportunity to re-imagine our river corridor should be seized by local community and grass-roots interests rather than falling into the short sighted interests of real estate developers. Real estate development doesn’t need to be bad by default, but the dollars and cents logic of the real-estate “flip” is overwhelmingly a paradigm that threatens the future of the river and its adjacent neighborhoods. Cecilia Estolano articulated this concern the Los Angeles River Economic Development Forum several months ago at the Federal Reserve Bank– she pointed out that the consortium of political and economic interests in the City are more than capable of turning the river-adjacent neighborhoods into a wall of high rise condominiums, and she urged political, economic, and advocate interests to take a deep breath. Is it possible to stop a bull from wrecking the China shop by asking politely?

    I strongly urge anglers to consider how we might rise above the designation of a “special interest” group (which we will ultimately be tagged). We can start by taking a moment to define your individual relationship to the river…in terms of physical, emotional, and ecological dimensions. Then read the Alternatives and make comments!

    -Tight lines

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