Tag: kayaking

Bingo! LA River opens for seventh season

Cut the ribbon
Then Councilmember Eric Garcetti opens a part of the bike path along the Los Angeles River in 2011. (Jim Burns)

Ah, Memorial Day, the traditional beginning of summer, baseball, eating hot dogs, drinking roadside lemonade from stands run by enterprising youngsters and, yes, that time of year when the Los Angeles River also opens for recreation. You may not have realized it, but the rest of the year, it ain’t legal. But authorities no longer raise an eyebrow if you’re wading through its Tide-scented waters, fly rod in hand.

So, dig in legally from Friday, May 31 (because of the recent storms), through Sept. 30 to try your hand at fishing and kayaking in either the Elysian Valley or the Sepulveda Basin. The dets are all here, provided by the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority. And, to avoid getting a ticket for fishing without a license, be sure to pony up the $49.94 if you are 16 or older. There are also two free fishing days this year, both Saturdays, July 6 and Aug. 31. I get my license every year at Big Five sporting goods store.

If you want to know what the water quality is before you go, LA Sanitation and Environment staff sample and test water twice a week at two locations in each Recreation Zone, according the its website. I always keep hand sanitizer in the car for river visits and the city also recommends you:

  • Avoid/Minimize water contact
  • Wash your body with soap and water if you contact the water
  • Do not drink the water

That said, remember the river flows with recycled water that comes from reclamation plants, such as the Donald C. Tillman Reclamation Plant near the rec zone in the Sepulveda Basin. I’ve never gotten sick from wet wading in the water.

So, take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and visit the river this summer. Throw in a line, try some urban kayaking, or bring the binoculars for some birding. Here’s a trip down memory lane, from my story in 2013 when all of this was a pilot project.

See you on the river, Jim Burns



Memorial Day marks 4th opening day on the LA River

This could be your summer to pull a carp, bass or tilapia out of the LA River — and then put it back. (Jim Burns)

Tomorrow is opening day on the LA River — for the fourth year in a row. Even though there’s actually sneak-fishing year around in its Tide-scented waters, from Memorial Day throughout the summer until Labor Day, anglers can legally fishing in two designated recreational areas, Elysian Park and Sepulveda Basin.

You may have your license checked by an MRCA ranger on patrol, so be sure to buy one. Hopefully, you buy one every year to help out the conservation and stocking efforts of the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. A one-day license is $15.12; resident, annual weighs in at $47.01 (What’s with the penny?)



Check out these maps to get your bearings (Credit MRCA):

Remember that you can also put in your kayak, or go with any of the following companies: L.A. River Expeditions, L.A. River Kayak Safari. Minimum age is between 10 and 12, depending on the locale, and the price runs between $50 to $75, depending on the company and the trip.Also, to celebrate its 30th anniversary, L.A. Conversation Corps is offering $30 tickets for the Sepulveda Basin excursion though Paddle the L.A. River.

And, if you’re chillin’ in Elysian Park near Benedict Street, the Frog Spot’s always a good place to take a break, swap river stories and get some food. Lots of music happens throughout the summer, as well as educational programs. The FS serves beer and wine after 2 p.m. Saturdays, and there’s always free water and wi-fi as well.

Take some time to wander the neighborhood, one which is quickly reinventing itself. There’s a new brewery in the works, as well as new, open-air Salazar, close to the Fletcher Bridge.

So, before it gets real hot, catch and release a carp, raise a paddle, get dunked, try downward-facing dog in a pocket park, spot a frog, make friends with a duck, pretend the roar of the 5 Freeway is actually a gurgling mountain creek (believe me, it happens), whatever, but get out there!

See you on the river, Jim Burns



With an eye to the Los Angeles River Recreational Zone Pilot Program

Bird's eye view: Inside a storm drain, safe for kids, one of the many improvements made at the North Atwater Creek Pocket Park. (Jim Burns)
Bird’s eye view: Inside a storm drain, safe for kids, one of the many improvements made at the North Atwater Creek Pocket Park. (Jim Burns)

The City of Los Angeles is busy presenting the proposed 2013 Los Angeles River Recreational Zone Pilot Program for Glendale Narrows with the second meeting occurring right now at City Hall. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend, but will post when the final meeting is to occur, sometime next month. The idea is to get public comment on a plan to open up recreation within that approximately seven-mile stretch of our river.

I’ve read the pilot program and all you kayakers out there should be pretty excited. If passed, the proposal would mean that individual non-motorized boaters would be able to launch from North Atwater Park, Steelhead Park and Marsh Park,  from Memorial Day through Labor Day, when there is very little chance of a flood from torrential rain.  That also means you could be fly fishing from your kayak as well, because the proposal also calls for fishing, bird watching and hiking. Swimming would still be a no-no. And float tubes are just plain impractical because of low water.

Dept. of Fish and Wildlife regs would then apply in the river.

I really wonder what this would mean for the eradication of carp in the river, as the U.S. Army Corps views it as an invasive species, even though carp have been resident for decades.

From the report: On Aug. 28, 2012, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1201, which amended the Los Angeles Flood Control Act “to provide for public use of navigable waterways under the district’s control that are suitable for recreational and educational purposes, when these purposes are not inconsistent with the use thereof by the district for flood control and water conservation.”

Stay tuned and see you on the river, Jim Burns

L.A. Conservation Corps inaugurates second year of L.A. River kayaking

MORNING LIGHT: Yes, that’s the way the L.A. River looks around 8 a.m. in summer. (Jim Burns)

At 7 a.m. on a Friday in the Valley, most early-bird go-getters think about what they’ll do after work. First though, they’ll chug, chug, chug down surface streets to a freeway; then hear the buzz, buzz, buzz as the digital world insistently wonders why not take those eyes off the freeway and get a load of this. A mug of very hot coffee, a few harsh words for other drivers and in due time, they’ll be in their parking spots at the office. That’s life in the Friday fast lane.

But as our group of truant workers donned hard hats, snapped on life jackets and sat our butts just right in kayak bottoms, the workaday world couldn’t have been farther away.

“Usually I’d be at my desk, answering emails and drinking coffee,” one of our group of seven said.


During the two hours we spend on the river, our three corpsmen kept us in line. They taught us not to be afraid of the water (tested and safe, thank you very much); they helped us not to slip and fall during each of three unexpected portages; they rescued at least a few of us from errant willow-branch overhangs and ill-placed sandbars. And they made us feel at home for those two glorious hours as we paddled along, hearing “river right” to spot a white heron just reaching flight, or a mallard honking the right of way over our elongated, colorful crafts.

The real magic happened once our group of seven couldn’t see/hear the freeway. All became country quiet.

“People think it’s somewhere in Louisiana,” said one of our guides, “because of the plastic bags.”

PADDLE UP: The L.A. Conservation Corps guides a group through still waters and overhanging willows. (Jim Burns

True, there was some trash, but as another floater commented, not nearly what we expected.

Hey, there’s a certain thrill to kayaking around a drowned shopping cart. And an authenticity to this very-urban river that’s just beginning to heal from years of our neglect.

Bottom line: Go and experience this yourself. It’s worth the $50.

Prediction: Five-year contract in hand, the Corps going to make this tour an L.A. “must do.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns



L.A. River Tours announces summer season

SAILING, SAILING: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (front of canoe) takes a tour of the L.A. River last year. (Courtesy Sepulveda Basin Wildlife.org)

Yesterday, L. A. River Tours (a.k.a. L.A. River Expeditions) received its tour operator license from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers  for this summer season of boating.  The program will be expanded in terms of the number of people it serves, but apparently not in terms of new areas of the river, which should again be the Sepulveda Recreation Basin.

The program is scheduled to run from July through September, and if the inaugural year was any example, these kayak trips will sell out in a matter of hours, although it’s estimated that the number of participants will expand from 300 to 2,000. Trips will float on Sundays and Mondays with each group averaging 10-to-12 paddlers. The cost will be $50. The Los Angeles Conservation Corps also will be hosting trips, including student groups. The latest info is available on the L.A. River Tours  website.
Now, what about a carp ‘n’ kayak?
See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends: (legally) kayaking the Los Angeles River

What a difference a year makes!

Last summer, the Environmental Protection Agency declared all 51 miles of the river navigable. This summer … well, it looks as if beginning July 8 for 50 bucks a person you’ll be able to kayak three miles of the rio through the idyllic Sepulveda Basin. For the full scoop, read Louis Sahagun’s piece in today’s Los Angeles Times.

Sign of the times: Kayaking could be coming to a river near you. (Jim Burns)

First off, this pilot program must win the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Next,the Los Angeles Conservations Corps and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority will partner up to offer these wet-n-wild trips. Details to follow.

A shout out to George Wolfe, who was willing to break the law to get this rolling. Another shout-out to Councilperson Ed Reyes, a champion of the river. And to the many, many others (blogger Joe Linton comes to mind) who have pushed, cajoled, persuaded, informed, and insisted that the Los Angeles River must be transformed from a concrete channel to a natural river, for the people’s use and enjoyment.

See you on the river, Jim Burns