February 3, 2013 § 3 Comments
The Bronx River Alliance (BxRA) is a non-profit working to foster a healthier Bronx River. Somewhat similar to Friends of the L.A. River, they do events, education, advocacy, and work closely with communities and governmental agencies to get stuff done on the river.
I’ve worked there two days, and they’ve been great days! « Read the rest of this entry »
January 30, 2013 § 6 Comments
Hearing the plug on NPR last week for the upcoming exhibition Never Built at the A+D museum, I was reminded of a very bizarre project that I came across in a 1968 issue of California Tomorrow’s excellent journal Cry California, for building a causeway across Santa Monica Bay. The caption to the picture reads: “Santa Monica Bay is the preposed site of a massive earth-filled causeway that would take 120 million cubic yards of fill from the Santa Monica Mountains. The plan would serve developers and oil interests primarily. The plan is actively supported by the City of Santa Monica, the County of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Mayor Samuel Yorty. While the program was blocked by the Los Angeles Council, the proposal is by no means dead.”
Sure enough, this project turns out to be included in the Never Built exhibition, though we can be relieved that this particular “visionary work” never left the drawing board. In that sense, this project would seem to run counter to the apparently positive tenor of the exhibition; the curators write wistfully of “a reluctant city whose institutions and infrastructure have often undermined inventive, challenging urban schemes.” While this certainly applies to projects like the celebrated Olmstead plan for preserving the flood plains of LA’s rivers as parkland, I assume that the curators have not uncritically equated “visionary” with “good.” Obviously, the visionary can cut both ways: the critical point is how to sort out the good visions from the bad ones. Unfortunately, plenty of bad visions have been realized in Los Angeles, but some of the worst, like the Santa Monica Bay Causeway, were stopped. The role of historical groups such as California Tomorrow in generating a discussion about how to develop California responsibly should not be forgotten.
More about the history of the Santa Monica Causeway can be found online here.
January 28, 2013 § 5 Comments
A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to bicycle a few miles of the Bronx River. It’s not unlike the Los Angeles River: a very urban, relatively industrialized freshwater river, in the process of making a dramatic comeback – with new parks and bike paths along its degraded banks. « Read the rest of this entry »
November 22, 2012 § Leave a Comment
A year ago, my Thanksgiving post was a tribute of sorts to an endangered species, the Vaquita marina, and a reflection on our consumption of water – an important cause of distress for this brackish-water dwelling, small porpoise:
I can tell you now, I thought that the tribute was an elegy to a dying species, the pitch for water conservation quite possibly a lost cause. But I needed to learn more, to see this in person – even if that meant dragging out the melancholy. And so, I teamed with Josh Link on a series, Explorations of the Lower Colorado River – a humbling and amazing trip in which we saw how a people’s love for a land, commitment to all species, and creativity and capability was being rewarded, poco a poco, with adjustments and agreements and funding and projects that kept some habitat on life support. But what was really needed was water for the river, for the delta.
This week, the hard work of these environmentalists in the Mexico and US border region has been rewarded: a landmark pact between the two nations recognizing the delta’s need for water, and other measures. It is a five-year treaty, so the flows are not secure. But it is an incredible beginning.
Today’s Thanksgiving celebrates an newfound abundance for a long-withered waterway, a lifeline and hope.
Congratulations, to all involved.
In the news:
National Geographic: A historic binational agreement gives new life to the Colorado River Delta
Huffington Post: An historic step towards saving the Colorado River and Delta
You can also see photos and news about the delta at the Save the Colorado River Delta Facebook page. They’ve also posted video of Mexico’s Director General of the National Water Commission talking about the pact.
November 2, 2012 § 6 Comments
(Note to L.A. folks: this former L.A. resident is now spending time living with my fiance in Downtown Jersey City. I’ll be posting occasional east coast pieces that I think may be interesting to L.A.’s Creek Freaks. For more information on recent changes at LACF, see this earlier post.)
I’ve spent the last month living in Jersey City, a place that was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. I am not going to go over all the damage done by Sandy nor the environmental factors likely responsible for second “storm of the century” in two years here… but I wanted to share one small observation about debris – because Sandy’s debris lines resemble those I’ve seen on the L.A. River after storms.
The good news is that my fiance and I are safe and dry, and suffered nearly no serious damage. We did have a day-long blackout, and train service is still out. Neighbors’ places flooded, but our basement stayed dry. At least right here on our street, near Hamilton Park in Downtown Jersey City, we got some strong winds but very little rain. The flooding issues here (and in nearby Hoboken, Manhattan, etc.) were the result of a surge of the waters of the Hudson River. The hurricane pushed water upstream, overflowing the banks and flooding low-lying areas. The surge added to already high-tide conditions on the Hudson – in this area a tidally-influenced river.
After the storm, we bicycled around – stretching our legs and checking out downed trees and other damage. We frequently bike at Liberty State Park – a low-lying park along the Hudson, just west of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The park has great views of the Manhattan skyline. The park contains the Liberty Science Center, located on a small hill. Along the base of the hill (see above photo), we spotted a debris line running along a level contour around the hill. The river pushed its flotsam as far as it could, and then receded, leaving a telltale line. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 31, 2012 § 1 Comment
Once the election buzz has passed, angelenos can turn their attention to the Supreme Court for some creekfreaky argumentation. Commenters – can you offer up interpretations of what this decision will mean for clean water in LA if the County has its way? (feel free to also weigh in on how you feel about the County using its scarce resources for fighting interpretations of the clean water act when it’s under compliance deadlines. All the way up to the Supreme Court.)
October 24, 2012 § 2 Comments
Hello Creekfreaks! I miss writing about LA waterways but am much enjoying the new sights and sounds of Humboldt Bay, and my new job is promising to be very rewarding. Being bay-focused, I’m reading about oysters today, and stumbled across a little anecdote I thought you might appreciate:
Native oysters grew in some of the bays in southern California, but did not form the basis of a commercial industry. Wilcox (1898, p. 647) says: “Native oysters, small in size and of little value, are found in limited quantities at several places in southern California, but are gathered only at Bolsa, Orange County. Some attempt is being made to cultivate the California oysters in the waters between San Pedro and Wilmington, where they have long been known to exist in very limited quantities.” He also stated that production in Orange County in 1895 was 25,740 pounds (probably including shells) valued at $772; at the same time the production in San Francisco Bay was 14,701,500 pounds (shell weight) valued at $538,725 (U.S. Bur. Fish. Rept., 1898, p. 651).
A decade later, in 1906, Pacific Fisherman (October 1906, p. 23) reported the native oysters in the Grand Canal at Venice, Los Angeles County, were to be exploited commercially.
-Fish Bulletin 123, The California Oyster Industry, by Elinore M. Barrett, California Department of Fish & Game, 1963