I think I’ve been avoiding posting about this because it just seems so discouraging. During the pandemic year, we’ve all needed a lift. But I can’t avoid it any longer. After so many years of advocacy for the LA River from, for example, Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) and Heal the Bay, to transform it from miles of concrete into a robust ecological space for surrounding communities as well as all Angelinos, now we have a celebrity-fueled vision to create elevated platform parks.
Talented as he is, celebrity architect Frank Gehry is clearly the wrong person to redesign our city waterway. Here is a letter to the editor printed in today’s Los Angeles Times in response to its opinion piece, “A river renewal plan to benefit the Gateway Cities.“
Mark C. Salvaggio writes: ” I have seen this so-called river plan. Lets MacAdams would be rolling over in his grave if he saw it. He started Friends of the Los Angeles River and was a mild-mannered poet and outdoors type of guy. MacAdams never sought to develop the L.A. River into an urban spectacle as envisioned by architect Frank Gehry. This plan would require billions of dollars and would destroy the “parkway” vision of MacAdams. This is what happens when big shots grab onto a community-based idea.”
When I searched the word “fish” in the recently released LA River Master Plan, I found three references: one to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, then these two mentions.
“Along the LA River, access points take on many different forms. Following the advocacy that led to the LA River’s designation as a federally protected waterway in 2010, there are now two section of the river designated as River Recreation Zones created to allow access into the river for kayaking, canoeing, and fishin (sic).”
“The 11.3 miles of soft-bottomed section (portions of the channel with earthen bottom) at Sepulveda Basin, The Glendale Narrows and the tidal estuary are the most ecologically healthy; however, much of the river corridor continues to support algae, insects, fish, and local and migratory birds.”
That’s literally it. Three mentions of fishing, one part of a state agency’s official name. Incredible.
On a recent fly-fishing trip to the awesome Southern Sierra, the guide I was with told me that the LA is now a destination spot for fly fishers who wanted to test their skill against out infamous carp. Celebrities now fish for carp; hip web publishers ballyhoo it, and generally speaking its cred has come a long way from when I started this blog more than 10 years ago.
So, if you love fishing and don’t want to drive for hours to find a decent spot to toss a fly, please take a few minutes, click on the LA River Master Plan above and comment. We all need to voice our opinion that this plan is going in the exact opposite direction it needs to go. I mean we already have a guarantee from the U.S. Army corps to restore a wide swatch of the river to its natural state. Yes, the money has languished in the Congressional coffers for years, but it has still been approved.
Please take a moment. Tell the city we want to have more areas to fish, not fewer, and certainly not to have to go underneath elevated park platforms to do it.
For a primer, listen to KPCC’s Larry Mantle’s “Air Talk” about the LA that runs around 20 minutes.
See you on the river, Jim Burns
By Bob Blankenship
It seems like this time of year the big fish move into the shallows and work the holes and slots around the rocks. I made several casts to this guy and nothing, until he moved out into a gentle current and I was able to place my mop fly just above him and twitch it right in front of him. One of those rare casts that went right where I wanted it.
Low light is best, morning or evening. Fish like the fishing birds. Move little, cast less. Spot your fish and watch their behavior, then place your fly a bit beyond them and tease ‘em with it.
Given the state of everything, I didn’t think that the rec zones, in Elysian Park and the Sepulveda Basin, would open, but I was happily wrong. It’s become a tradition since 2013 to have actual legal fishing (don’t forget your license), bird watching, jail-breaking the pooch, or just hanging out in these two designated areas, from Memorial Day until Sept. 30. This year, because of the pandemic, watch for posted public health guidelines. Know that kayaking is not in the cards this year.
We’ll miss two figures along the water this year, Friends of the Los Angeles River co-founder Lewis MacAdams, and river
champion extraordinaire, passed away just over a month ago. Tip your hat to his statue what was Marsh Park and is now named after him. Without Lewis, none of us would be enjoying the water the way we now can.
And we won’t see the friendly smile of veteran L.A. Park Ranger Capt. Alberto Torres, who spent 40 years on the job, in various positions. Alberto defined public service for me, with his kindly manner and sense of humor.
If you love fishing, there is no better way than to celebrate easing the restrictions of the last two months, than to hang out on the banks of our very own river. Maybe I can even catch a carp, if I can remember how to start my car to get there.
See you on the river, Jim Burns