Today was about as perfect an L.A. fishing day as you could get: temperature in the low 70s; carp for the sighting; long stretches of river to yourself. So, what’s not to like?
The Atwater Village “temporary” barriers are still there after close to a year. Remember the Army Corps installed them last January to protect Atwater Village from the predicted El Nino flooding. Well, the possibility of getting a super soaker came and went, but the sand-filled blockades are still there. I was reminded of President Ronald Reagan’s famous line, delivered at the Berlin Wall in 1987: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
I haven’t walked the whole length, but according to a piece that ran in the Eastsider in January, it’s three miles long!
And because scaling the barriers — filled with sand and 4 feet high — is difficult, access along this very long stretch is once again contained to the walking path above the river. So, if you want to:
— fly fish
— walk your dog near river’s edge
— enjoy the occasional turtle
— bird watch
— take wildlife photographs while smelling the river’s Tide-scented waters
you won’t be doing it unless you are fit and able enough to hoist yourself up and over the barrier. Where does that leave the disabled who would like to enjoy our river?
The barriers have been there so long that weeds are actually growing in many of the containers, as if that were their intended use.
I read the Corps has decided the area is at risk if we experience a “100 year flood.” Is that the reason for not dismantling the barriers? For me, it’s a blatant attempt to keep the river away from people, just like you. Thank you, Army Corps., for attempting to protect the area, but the risk is gone and what’s left is classic overreach.
It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so if anyone is in that area, please take a shot of how high the water gets, and, of course, don’t try to access the lower river reaches. If the water rises anywhere near these dreadful barriers, I’ll retract this post. Otherwise, it’s time for all of us to echo Reagan’s words — the fight to get access to the river has been too long and hard to let it be snatched away once again by a government agency.
See you on the river, Jim Burns
When I first began exploring the L.A. River, problem No. 1 was finding it. My son and I encountered lots of barbed wire fences, dead-end big box parking lots, and industrial parks, all situated basically on the river, and all with no access granted. That was two years ago, and even though I now have my favs that get us to the carp, the river is basically an insider’s secret.
So, too, are the pocket parks scattered around its concrete banks. The first time I heard about the Yoga Pocket Park in Atwater Village, I thought someone was pulling my downward dog-facing legs … not so. The originators of this tiny green space — I believe the lead was Northwest Trees, but can’t swear to it — were afraid that a more traditional exercise park, based on stations for strenuous physical exercise, would bring gangs.
Today, walking north from the golf course in Atwater Village, through Steelhead Park (another hard-to-find spot, but from the golf course parking lot, head toward the freeway and you’ll see it), you’ll see North Atwater Creek Pocket Park after about 10 minutes of hoofing. Check out the waters here as well …
Open for about eight weeks, the park shows what the river will eventually become: neighborhoods connected instead of rejected; green grass instead of broken asphalt; good vibes instead of creepy. Take a look at the pics below to get a feeling for the place. And, fishermen, there’s a working water fountain, in case you’re thirsty.
Was it worth the $4 million that came primarily, according to city info, from the settlement of two Clean Water Act enforcement actions? Yes, yes, it was. Bring your rod and check it out. And if you have kids, bring them as well.
See you on the river, Jim Burns