Ruling Allows Adventurers to Raft the Los Angeles River

LOS ANGELES, August 2 (GreenAnswers Staff) —  Mention the Los Angeles River and maybe the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger being chased through its concrete embankments by a speeding 18-wheeler driven by the Terminator-1000 comes to mind? Or maybe you envision the car race from the movie Grease? Or maybe you didn’t even know that a major river flows through the heart of America’s second biggest city?

Either way, there is a scene on the LA River that is even more unbelievable that just recently took place. That scene is of a group of outdoor enthusiasts partaking on a river rafting adventure right through the heart of the City on the Los Angeles River.

When the EPA recently designated the 51 mile LA River as a “navigable waterway,” a legal grey area emerged. Normally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the LA County Department of Public Works restrict access to the river. However, after the EPA’s ruling, it became unclear what exactly was allowable on the river. As a result, a group called LA River Expeditions recently took a group of naturalists and reporters, on a four hour guided kayak excursion down the river.

The float trip included three meandering “lush and tranquil” miles through the Sepulveda Basin in the San Fernando Valley and six “sporty” miles of Class-I rapids on the Glendale Narrows near Griffith Park and Dodger Stadium. 

If the EPA and other agencies with jurisdiction allow the trips to continue, LA River Expeditions intends to make these tours a regular occurrence.

Of course, accessing the LA River was not always such an extraordinary act. Like most cities, Los Angeles was built where it is because of the river’s presence. And in 1930, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr, the son of the architect of New York’s Central Park, proposed that the LA River play a similar function for the City of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the Great Depression intervened and the city and its developers did not want to forgo the profits to be made by developing the river’s banks. Then, in 1938 a massive flood killed 85 people along the river in Compton, sealing the river’s fate to be locked inside concrete flood channels and closed to the public.

However, with the EPA’s recent ruling, and the efforts of river activists such as LA River Expeditions and The River Project, there is now hope that this river running through the heart of LA may once again be accessible to the city that it gave birth to.

Photos via LA River Expeditions

Video via LA Times

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