FEBRUARY 1938 WAS a wet month in Los Angeles. The ground, where it hadn’t been paved over, was saturated, which meant rain had nowhere to go except into the streets, canals and washes. On the 27th, a storm arrived. During the following days, the city received its second-highest 24-hour rainfall in history. Reservoirs overflowed, dams topped out and floodwaters careered down Pacoima Wash and Tujunga Wash toward the Los Angeles River. By the time the river peaked at Long Beach, its flow exceeded the Mississippi’s at St. Louis. “It was as if the Pacific had moved in to take back its ancient bed,” wrote Rupert Hughes in “City of Angels,” a 1941 novel that climaxes with the flood. In an instant, the Lankershim Bridge in North Hollywood collapsed, and five people were swept away. Sewer and gas lines ruptured; communications were cut; houses were lifted straight off their foundations and sank into the water. In all, 87 people died. Read More.
From Friends on the Los Angeles River:
We began this call last year, and now hear it echoed by the agencies and decision-makers who will help us realize River restoration right here in LA. We’re pushing for equitable public access and ecological restoration on our River.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for CASITAS LOFTS has now been published, and we’ve been granted our comment letter extension! This gives us – along with our community supporters and partner organizations – until the end of March to submit our comments. READ ALL ABOUT THE PROJECT on our website folar.org/casitas
Save the date for March 4 and register for our workshop, when we will break down the contents of the DEIR and issues with the project. Here’s what to expect:
Learn the scale of the developer’s proposal – it’s big!
Break out into groups to examine specific impacts of this project on Nature, Traffic, Floodplain Management and its woeful unaffordability.
Prepare letters, submit comments online and call local leaders to tell them we oppose this project and why.
FoLAR is co-hosting this workshop with Clockshop, NRDC and LA River State Park Partners.
On Saturday, April 14, join the 29th LA River CleanUp UPPER RIVER by signing up now! Last year, over 10,000 volunteers–individuals and groups from all ages and backgrounds–demonstrated their passion for the LA River by joining the Friends of LA River annual CleanUp.
The 2018 FoLAR CleanUp will be held at nine sites along the river, on April 14, 21 and 28, from 9 a.m. to noon with different locations on each date. Volunteers will receive a FoLAR reusable tote bag and FoLAR t-shirt, and other goodies, have access to entertainment and the LA River Rover mobile visitor and education center.
This year, FoLAR is also coordinating efforts with LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority) to increase the safety and awareness toward cleaning the river and respecting homeless population in the riverbed. To register or get more information please, click here.
If you haven’t gotten your hands dirty at one of Friends of the Los Angeles River clean-ups, now is your chance. I participate most years, and you get to meet like-minded people, as well as pull all kinds of crazy gunk out of the LA River. Here are this year’s dates:
Saturday, April 15 | 9 a.m. – noon | Upper River
Saturday, April 22 | 9 a.m. – noon | Mid River
Saturday, April 29 | 9 a.m. – noon | Lower River
The website has much more information, as well as the paperwork you’ll need to fill out. In the meantime, enjoy some sitar music (bottom of page) from a few years back to help you make up your mind to participate!
See you on the river, Jim Burns
Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR)
Sepulveda Basin Fish Survey
Tuesday, Nov. 22
CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS
8 a.m., arrive at meeting site – The park gate on Burbank Boulevard, just west of Woodley Avenue. This is the kayak loading site and it’s roughly a quarter-mile upstream from Sepulveda Dam.
8:30 a.m., William Preston Bowling will greet everyone with liability waivers. Volunteers signed in, put on waders/sunscreen, and took the fishing gear and buckets down to the river at site 1 and Anglers bring their own gear and valid fishing license.
We are collecting fish to observe and throw back, showing all your catch to biologists once caught, they will decide what species to keep for toxicity study.
This will be the second outing of the third “Los Angeles River Fish Studies” created by FoLAR. This study is in Partnership with Stillwater Sciences and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Check out FoLAR’s past studies here:
Click to access fish-study-2008.pdf
Click to access 2016_FoLAR_LongBeach_FishStudy.compressed.pdf
William Preston Bowling
FOLAR (310) 428-5085
If you are free to help fish Willow Street in Long Beach on Wednesday from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m., please let William Preston Bowling at FoLAR know by RSVPing firstname.lastname@example.org. He’ll fill you in on the particulars, including where to meet.
On a cloudy Saturday, the third annual Off Tha’ Hook fishing throwback got off to a solid start as 20 adult anglers descended the riprap to the river. What happened to the additional 17 fishers who signed up is anyone’s guess, but some speculated that the change of location, from North Atwater Park to the Bowtie Parcel could have contributed.
Whatever the reason, action started early when Chris Manno of Los Feliz hooked a beautiful largemouth bass with his spinning rod and lure. He looked to have it going on into the home stretch until Ken Morris, also of Los Feliz, also hooked a bass, which, when inspected by the biologist Rosi Dagit, turned out to be 2 centimeters longer as well as heftier in the midsection. Morris also landed another bass and two green sunfish.
If we were horse racing, it would have been a win “by a nose.”
This was a first, in that carp have won the grand prize the last two years.
Meanwhile, the kids event really took off this year, perhaps doubling in size from 2015. A hundred children and teenagers had to go through four checkpoints with their parents before getting a rod and heading down to the water.
In the kids’ division, Mary Jane Garcia, 9, of Koreatown, caught not one, but two small carp.
When asked what her spinning rod bait was, her father gave a knowing look. After all, he’d nearly landed a carp earlier in the adult division.
“Tortillas,” he said, “just plain tortillas.”
Yes, the tried and true LA River carp elixir.
Meanwhile, Elijah Rodriguez, 16, of Los Angeles also won in the kids division for a beautiful, large tilapia.
Also, this year, besides being at a new site, three fly fishing clubs supported the tournament, Pasadena Casting Club, Downey Fly Fishers and the Southwestern Council, which is actually composed of more than 20 area fly fishing clubs. PCC again donated a box of flies; and Downey was busy tying flies for the kids to use on the river. Patagonia donated more than $700 in gear, and Harley Davidson also contributed prizes this year as well.
Trout Unlimited provided lots of fly casting instruction, in which the object was to get the unhooked fly to set off a mouse trap. TU’s Bob Blankenship and Drew Irby are men of infinite patience, setting and resetting the traps, as well as untangling more than a fair share of birds’ nests.
Finally, Ken Jarrett, of Morro Bay, netted a minuscule Mississippi Silver Sides, winning the “rarest species” award.
“That’s the first time we’ve found one of those in the LA River,” Dagit said.
Below is video proof that there’s really nothing like catching your first fish. This video, taken by Bradley Martin, shows his son Wyatt hooking a fish for the first time.
See you on the river, Jim Burns
Hey, now, let’s get happy. Friends of the Los Angeles River just released “State of the River 3: The Long Beach Fish Study.”
As the organization’s founder writes in the introduction: “The first time I came to Willow Street in Long Beach was to announce our first LA River cleanup in the 1980s. We called for 10,000 people to join us in trash collection and only about 10 showed up. “ He goes on to say that most would have seen this as abject failure, but, as an organization that thrived on failure, it was surely a win, instead.
Lewis MacAdams recounts how that failure lead to its first grant, one that chronicled the 200 some odd bird species living in and around the river.
Later, in 2008, came the mid-river fish study, revealing that nature is just damned hard to kill, even with our best efforts. Participants found hundreds and hundreds of non-native fish living in the Glendale Narrows section of the river, by Atwater Village.
Today, you can read about the efforts of more than 130 professional scientists and amateur anglers, all coming together to support both FoLAR and the Aquarium of the Pacific in this latest release. Five fishing events, coordinated by the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains and FoLAR, plied the brackish waters from May, 2014 to August, 2015. The story of what was – and wasn’t – found unfolds herein like a good mystery. Rich field notes catalog water quality (surprisingly good), days and times of the study, numbers of participants and anglers, gear used and fish caught.
And, as with many things, it could be an odd experience. For example, one day, trash collected in seine nets lists:
— condom — surgical glove
— tea kettle — Doritos bags
— ketchup — trash bags
— men’s brown sock
As Robert Blankenship, president of the South Coast Chapter of Trout Unlimited, who lives in the area, writes, “I visit and fish this area regularly. I’ve caught a bunch of carp, with a few big catfish and some smallish largemouth bass thrown in” and goes on to lament that on the very hot survey days the anglers “demonstrated why it’s called fishing, not catching.”
The big prize of the survey was a tiny, native fish that literally swam into the hands of one volunteer. Dabin Lee, a California State University Los Angeles student, caught a Killifish.
Dr. Sabrina Drill, natural resources advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, notes in the book that “For some, the measure of ‘functioning’ ecosystem is whether it supports native biodiversity,” and goes on to write that by that measure the in-stream community is failing. But, given the robustness with which Angelinos now fish and kayak its waters, “the meaning of the suite of fishes in the river now is open to interpretation and depends a bit on your starting point.”
Still Drill regrets the absence of native species, and there is no denying that the king we all wish to return to our area, the endangered Southern California Steelhead, is missing from this and the Glendale Narrows survey.
Although there are several photographs of two steelhead in Ballona Creek in 2008, as Rosi Dagit, RCDSMM senior conservation biologist, writes “Most years, fewer than 10 adult steelhead were seen throughout the whole area, concentrated in just a few rivers and creeks.” That is down from runs of literally thousands of fish in the 1940s, which has been well-documented in the Los Angeles Times.
“We thought for sure there were steelhead trout lurking in the river at Long Beach, waiting for concrete removal so they can make their way back upstream as they did for the last time in 1940, but no such luck,” writes William Preston Bowling, FoLAR’s special projects manager. “The California Killifish was discovered in this study and could be an indicator for water temperatures that a steelhead could survive in.”
To this end, it’s imperative that the billion-dollar re-imagining of the Glendale Narrows area go beyond architecture and new housing. What’s important for the steelhead is also supremely important to us: better water quality, reducing river water temperatures and restoring riparian function, as Dagit notes elsewhere in the text.
So, if you missed volunteering for Willow Street, don’t despair, the work continues, moving to the upper river and a chance to sign up for Wednesday’s field excursion.
See you on the river, Jim Burns