Reporting

CNS | Concrete Jungle: The Quest to Make the LA River Wild Again

The main source of water in the Los Angeles River – including in this segment located near Dodger Stadium – comes from treatment plants, such as the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, California. (Martin Macias, Jr. / CNS)

September 19, 2019 – LOS ANGELES, CA (Link to article)

A dozen kayakers paddled down the tree-lined, sandy-bottomed Los Angeles River in late August, running their hands through sycamore and willow leaves and gliding over carp and steelhead trout as traffic noise from the nearby 405 Freeway buzzed overhead.

Park ranger Fernando Gomez led students and wildlife advocates down the river in the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Preserve, a flood basin and park also called “the symphony of sounds” for its proximity to city infrastructure.

As kayakers passed homeless encampments and piles of trash lining the riverbank, a Cooper’s hawk darted out of a tree and lunged at a night heron with its talons.

Some kayakers removed phones from plastic bags to photograph the scene. Others shifted attention to a spider wrapping a trapped dragonfly in its web.

“It’s like we’re in a National Geographic documentary,” a student said.

Another student asked Gomez – chief ranger with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) – whether alligators lurk in the waters.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Gomez. “If I found an alligator in here, you’d never find me on the water again.”

For many LA County residents, up-close encounters with wildlife on the river – much less a kayaking trip – feel out of reach if not impossible in the traffic-heavy clatter of the concrete jungle.


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