Tag: Mitch O’Farrell

Calendar Item: Tenth Annual Frogtown Artwalk slated for Saturday, Aug. 13

image1 This year, Frogtown Artwalk, 4 p.m.-10 p.m., is dedicated to the vision of Lewis MacAdams of the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), now in its 30th year of protecting and restoring the natural and historic heritage of the LA River. At the Artwalk hub, the Frogspot, an award ceremony at 6 p.m. will honor MacAdams for his work; CD13 councilman Mitch O’Farrell will also be thanked for his involvement in the Artwalk. See you on the river, Jim Burns

FoLAR debuts fishing line recycling program

RECYCLING: FoLAR has place three tubes along the river as part of a pilot program. (Jim Burns)
RECYCLING: FoLAR has placed three tubes along the river as part of a pilot program. (Jim Burns)
In another first, the advocacy group Friends of the Los Angeles River has installed three tubes for fisherfolk to safely discard used line in selected spots along the river’s upper banks. Trout Unlimited provided the funding, while both Councilperson Mitch O’Farrell (13th District) and the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council provided their political imprimatur.

“We support FoLAR taking a stance on discarded fishing line, while educating anglers who are new to fishing the L.A. River as well as the anglers who have fished the river for decades,” wrote AVNC co-chairs Torin Dunnavant and Courtney Morris in their letter of support.

Both the AVNC and O’Farrell’s office cited a trigger event for better line management, the death of a Great Blue Heron, called Fred by locals, who was caught in fishing line, seriously injured and subsequently died as marine biologists attempted to nurse him back to health.

Monofilament may seem harmless enough, but it represents both an eco-hazard as well as a possible deadly ensnarement for the wildlife so abundant on the river. According to FoLAR, birds can be attracted to the fishy smell on used line, then become hopelessly ensnared while digging for it in convention trash cans. Also, monofillament does not degrade over time leaving what amounts to an ageless hazard if not dispossed of properly.

As awareness has increased among state agencies, fishing clubs and individual anglers, these recycling tubes have become more common on streams. For example, a tube sits next to the angler survey box at the beginning of the catch and release section of the West Fork of the San Gabriel, a popular area for local flyfishers.

Each week, the tubes’ contents will be sent to the Berkley Conservation Institute in Iowa. The company, which produces conventional fishing line, recycles used line into 4-foot cubicle fish habitats it calls “Fish-Habs.” According to the company’s website, since 1990, BCI has recycled more than 9 million miles worth of fishing line. That’s enough line to fill two reels for every angler in America.

At the close of recreational zones on Labor Day, the program results will be re-evaluated to measure impact and the tubes could become a permanent fixture on the river.

Currently, the tubes are located at the Glendale Narrows Dover Street river entrance in the yoga pocket park, Acresite Street and FoLAR’s own Frog Spot. Future rollouts include the Bowtie Parcel and Marsh Park, if the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority that patrols the area agrees.

Fishing has only recently become legal on the river, during a certain time — Memorial Day through Labor Day — and within certain places, the carefully defined recreational zones below Fletcher Bridge, the so-called Elysian Valley River, and in a stretch in the Sepulveda Basin River in the San Fernando Valley. The fact that the pilot line recycling tubes lie outside these boundaries speaks to the growing number of anglers who search for the best places to fish, regardless of geographic boundaries.

SIGNS OF CHANGE: A new condo complex abutts the very spiffy Marsh Park within the rec zone. (Jim Burns)
SIGNS OF CHANGE: A new condo complex abutts the very spiffy Marsh Park within the rec zone. (Jim Burns)
“As the LA River is reborn, it needs the help of a variety of river huggers: fisherfolk, bird watchers, dog walkers, nature strollers.  It’s important that everyone who has a particular interest respects the interests of others, and lost or discarded fishing line can ensnare the birds and other creatures that call the river home,”” Robert Blankenship, president of Trout Unlimited’s south coast chapter, said. “We encourage all fishermen to discard used line in the collectors, and would appreciate anyone who sees old fishing line in the river area to please use the collectors as well.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Two L.A. River rec. zones open for summer splashing

PADDLE UP: The L.A. Conservation Corps guides a group through still waters and overhanging willows. (Jim Burns)
PADDLE UP: The L.A. Conservation Corps guides a group through still waters and overhanging willows. (Jim Burns)
Fly-fishers, grab your egg patterns.
Kayakers, adjust your life vests.
Birders, shine your binocular lenses.

because …

once again water recreation is going live in the Glendale Narrows in Elysian Valley and in a portion of the Sepulveda Basin. Hats off to councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority and the U.S. Army Corps for keeping it afloat (haha) this year.

The dets for May 26 through Sept. 1, sunrise to sunset:

GA-RUMP: So is this a Western Toad or a Western Spadefoot Toad? (Jim Burns)
GA-RUMP: So is this a Western Toad or a Western Spadefoot Toad? (Jim Burns)

— Flyfishing/traditional fishing are both super-fun, and don’t forget to bring your kids along. You will need a fishing license for each rod, but it’s well worth the money. Remember this is the only time of the year that you can legally fish the river. Check out this story I wrote for KCET for details.
Tickets to explore one and a half miles of the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area with LA River Expeditions go on sale tomorrow at noon. I donned a life vest a couple of years back and had a blast.
— In Glendale Narrow, rent a kayak at Marsh Park through L.A. River Kayaks. Or paddle through our very own rapids with L.A. River Kayak Safari by booking here.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Councilmembers make full-court press for billion-dollar river restoration

Pushing for the billion-dollar restoration option, from left, are councilmembers Cedillo, LaBonge and O'Farrell. in the center, back, is California State Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D., 51st District) (Jim Burns)
Pushing for the billion-dollar restoration option, from left, are councilmembers Cedillo, LaBonge and O’Farrell. in the center, back, is California State Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D., 51st District) (Jim Burns)

In preparation for what could be remembered as an historic city council vote, three councilmembers made their case poolside for the most expensive restoration of the Los Angeles River at over $1 billion. It was a continuation of a public relations campaign over the summer to convince Washington to open its strained pocketbook in favor of a local project with considerable political capital.

The press conference, strategically held at Downey Pool, close to both the river and Los Angeles State Historic Park, presaged the first time since 2006 that the city would declare its priority publicly. Ironically, its partner, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, didn’t attend.

“I think you’re going to see an unprecedented push and an unprecedented effort of collaboration. We are dead serious about this, and we are aspiring to work together, to collaborate, to pool all the resources, working with the state, but also preparing to go to Washington, working with the Army Crops of Engineers to get the biggest package that we can for the city,” said newly elected Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

He, together with council colleagues Mitch O’Farrell and Tom LeBonge, made it clear that the city wants the federal government to spend $1 billion over the next several years to restore the Los Angeles River to  at least a semblance of what it once was, as will be outlined in the Corps’ Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study (ARBOR), which cost $10 million and seven years to complete.

Even though the actual study, along with its four restoration alternatives, won’t be released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until Sept. 20, politicians and river advocates are lining up in support of the most expensive plan. After ARBOR’s release, there will be a 45-day public comment period and a public meeting on Oct. 17. Although a month away from the report’s official release by the Army Corps., the broad outline has been available for weeks.

A few hours later, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously “to endorse a Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study alternative that results in the most expansive ecosystem restoration.”

Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti sent a letter to Washington advocating for the same thing.

“The ARBOR study Alternative 20 will begin to reweave the city and the watershed together,” said Lewis MacAdams, who established Friends of the Los Angeles River, and is now considered the “grandfather” of the current restoration effort. “It will bring the river together with the mountains, and it will bring the people together with the habitat, miles of concrete will be destroyed. It would begin to payback with this billion dollars all the work that’s been done to destroy the L.A. River.”

MacAdams recounted how, as an old-time Army Corps of Engineers fighter, he was surprised to be invited to a teleconference between the L.A. District and the national headquarters in Washington a couple of months ago. He went on to say he was shocked when I saw what was going to become the proposal of the L.A. district, Alternative 20.

By contrast, Alternative 13., said to be favored in Washington and the least expensive of the plans, has a projected cost of just under $450 million to pull concrete and make other habitat changes along the 11 miles of the river from downtown to Griffith Park.

“We’re Los Angeles. We deserve a $1 billion investment in the Los Angeles River. We’re going to fight for this,” O’Farrell said.

See you on the river, Jim Burns


Quick Mends: O’Farrell takes river baton from Reyes

Newly elected Council-member Mitch O'Farrell. (Courtesy City Council District 13)
Newly elected Council-member Mitch O’Farrell. (Courtesy City Council District 13)

Even though termed-out river champion Ed Reyes’s district went to Gilbert Cedillo, the new self-proclaimed keeper of the flame is newly elected Council-member Mitch O’Farrell.  And front-and-center is the most important decision to impact the Los Angeles River since it was channelized last century.

“We have some alternatives that are being entertained right now by the Army Corps [of Engineers] and the Feds,” O’Farrell recently told The Los Angeles Downtown News, referencing Alternative 20, which is the most extensive and expensive of the revitalization plans. “We all support that, but it has a $1 billion price tag. There are some [alternatives] that are a lot less than that.”

Meanwhile, the Corps can’t officially comment on the details until the report containing the four alternatives (not three, as was widely reported in the Los Angeles Times last week) is released in early September, according to a spokesman. But sources close to the process say that Washington balked at the Alternative 20, billion-dollar price tag and will push for the cheapest of the alternatives. When released, the report will also identify the Corps tentatively selected plan (TSP).

“The TSP is ‘tentative’ and not a final agency decision,” said the new Los Angeles District Commander Col. Kim Colloton. “We will ask for public and agency comments on all alternatives, and consider all comments before we make a final decision. Transparency and community involvement are vitally important.”

In a press release, Colloton said the Corps, City of Los Angeles and stakeholders have jointly developed the alternatives, and the purpose of the collaborative effort has been to find ways to improve the L.A. River ecosystem in a constrained funding environment.

“Hundreds of ideas were explored, and the best of these were combined to come up with the final array of alternatives in the draft report,” she said.  “The ultimate goal is to maximize ecosystem benefits relative to costs.”

Once released,  the action will trigger a 45-day public comment period that will help inform a final report, which will include a recommendation to Congress.

See you on the river, Jim Burns