LA River (Re-)Discovered
Believe it or not, a lot is happening this summer on the fabled L.A. River.
The Paddle the L.A. River pilot boating program is, for the first time in the river’s history, conducting sanctioned canoe and kayak trips — led by L.A. River Expeditions, managed by Los Angeles Conservation Corps and assisted by other partner organizations. So popular is this new program that 1,400 people showed up online at 7am on a Tuesday to buy one of the 280 tickets for the guided trips — and the whole season sold out in ten minutes!
George Wolfe, founder and president of L.A. River Expeditions got all this started in 2008 when he led a dozen brave Angelenos down the river – against the wishes of the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages a long stretch of the river. A new documentary about this expedition and the river’s revitalization (and the central role played by activist boaters) is nearing completion.
Various media have been covering this evolving rags-to-riches story, including: The New York Times, the BBC, CNN, NPR, The Los Angeles Times and Time magazine — even The Tonight Show recently aired its own kayaking-related gag.
If the pilot program is successful, look for an expanded program on other green, boatable stretches of the river in coming years. Still to be decided are issues of individual public river access. Also, still unresolved is where to find the money and political will to realize the city and county river revitalization master plans, which call for reconfiguring the river to make it more aesthetically pleasing and to make better use of local water — so L.A. can reduce its notorious dependence on water from other river systems in northern California or in neighboring states.