Los Angeles City Council made the first big push Monday for a major plan to restore an 11-mile stretch of the mostly concrete Los Angeles River back to its natural state.
Local river advocates and city leaders are urging officials in Washington, D.C., to sign off on a $1 billion plus restoration plan that is one of four being proposed in a study conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study is set to be released in September.
The Los Angeles River restoration effort was one of just seven in the nation picked to be part of the Urban Water federal Partnership, an urban waterway revitalization program launched under President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
The council voted 14-0 to back Alternative 20, which will tear up about two miles of concrete walls along the Glendale Narrows portion of the Los Angeles River. That portion of the river runs by Griffith Park and through Elysian Valley.
The plan backed by the City Council would connect the river to the Verdugo Wash, and to park areas like the Los Angeles State Historic Park, also known as the “Cornfields.” Additional connections include to Taylor Yard, the Arroyo Seco confluence and Piggyback Yard, a Union Pacific rail yard in downtown Los Angeles.
This plan is up against Alternative 13, a far less ambitious, and less expensive plan, that is a strong favorite, Los Angeles River advocates say.
Most of the 51-mile long Los Angeles River, which flows from the San Fernando Valley to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach was paved and turned into a water channel during the first half of the last century, a process that destroyed much of the habitat for birds, amphibians, and numerous other wildlife and vegetation that frequented or lived in the area. Most of the river was closed off by concrete walls or made inhospitable for leisure activity.
The portion being studied for ecosystem restoration was one of the only areas where the riverbed remained unpaved.