Dear Senator Kevin de Leon:
I strongly support the bill (SB 1201) that I understand would significantly widen access to the Los Angeles River.
The Los Angeles River is the whole reason I became an environmental and fly fishing blogger. I’d been assigned a story on carp fishing in the river by Richard Anderson, publisher of California Fly Fisher, a bi-monthly publication that is carefully read among the fly fishing community. As I’d never actually been to the river, my first step was to find access to the water. This turned out to be no easy task, and I can still clearly remember driving around the Atwater Village area of Los Angeles with my son. We zigzagged through parking lots, truck depots and all manner of what seemed possible entrances, only to find dead-ends, walls and barbed wire fencing.
Finally, we found an entrance tucked almost invisibly between the I-5 freeway and a golf course. I later learned that this entrance is known as Steelhead Park.
I spent weeks researching that first piece, gleaning lots of information about the river, its fish and its restricted access. For example, I learned that Griffith Park rangers as well as Los Angeles Police Department officers were charged with ticketing anyone who strayed off the bicycle paths. Obviously, those fishing were actually doing so illegally.
In a short two years, recreational access has increased, largely thanks to the work of river advocate George Wolfe, FOLAR, a mostly cooperative city, and a vastly changed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But we must go further.
When lives are not in danger from floodwaters, vast stretches of our 51-mile jewel should be open to the public. And, the public should be able to enjoy the access without the trepidation I first experienced.
Today, my blog www.lariverflyfishing.com reached its 10,000th hit, so I feel it is an apt celebration to make this letter to you public, in the hope that others will also write to you to support your efforts.
See you on the river, Jim Burns