Of Nexus and Navigability: Part 5 – USACE: no ifs ands or boats!

July 2, 2009 § 4 Comments

Here’s an internal email that was forwarded to one of my friends over at the Friends of the Los Angeles River.  The email is from a high level staff person at the Los Angeles District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE.)  I’m including it verbatim, other than omitting names and contact information.

From: [name 1]
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2009 10:39 AM
To: DLL-CESPL-AM; DLL-CESPL-AM-A; DLL-CESPL-AM-A-AZ; DLL-CESPL-AM-AF; DLL-CESPL-AM-AF-AT; DLL-CESPL-AM-AF-FRP; DLL-CESPL-AM-A-NV; DLL-CESPL-AM-CW; DLL-CESPL-AM-CW-PA; DLL-CESPL-AM-CW-PR; DLL-CESPL-AM-DOD; DLL-CESPL-AM-DOD-IS; DLL-CESPL-AM-DOD-R; DLL-CESPL-AM-DOD-R; DLL-CESPL-AM-OM; DLL-CESPL-AM-OM-EE; DLL-CESPL-AM-OM-OM; DLL-CESPL-AM-OM-OM-AZ; DLL-CESPL-AM-OM-OM-CA; DLL-CESPL-AM-OM-OM-M
Subject: Film Permits and the Los Angeles River
Importance: High

Ladies and Gentlemen:

This is to provide specific guidance to all of you who currently participate in the review and approval of film permit requests and/or who monitor filming pursuant to an approved Permit — or who might have occasion to perform these tasks in the future.

It is the policy of this District that boating of any sort is NOT PERMITTED in the river — no ifs, no ands, no buts — no boats/boating, kayaks/kayaking, canoes/canoeing — no floatable vessels of any sort.  No swimming either.

ANY request for an exception must be made in writing to the Commander, through the Chief, Asset Management Division and must be accompanied by written justification.

Film Permits are to be executed on behalf of the Government by ME or [name 2] — such authority is not delegated below the level of the Deputy Chief.

[name 3] will be amending the language of our film permits to include standard, specific language regarding these prohibitions.

If you are in any way unclear regarding this instruction — generally or with respect to a specific situation– please bring your questions to me or [name 2].

Thank you

[name 1]
[title, name of division]
“The Mighty” Los Angeles District
U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers
[phone number]
[fax number]
[email address]

It could almost go without comment, but, as I am prone to expatiation, I will add some of my own reactions, too.

First of all, I think that this is just another document proving that the river is indeed navigable! Like the river koan Creek Freak posted a while back, a sign or an email that says “no boating” and “no swimming” is actually evidence that a water body is boatable and swimmable. The navigability discussion is actually very important these days. The Los Angeles River’s legal protections under the federal Clean Water Act depends on whether the river is a navigable waterway.  Creek Freak has a series of earlier posts exploring this controversy (parts >1, >2, >3, and >4.) The issue is currently before the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be decided any day now and Creek Freak encourages you to write to them in support of protecting the Los Angeles River.

When I first saw this, I self-importantly assumed that someone from the USACE had read my earlier blog describing a less-than-entirely-up-front use of film permits for the three-day kayak trip down the L.A. River. Then I realized that it was probably the more recent videotaped excursion made by Conan O’Brien, which, I have to admit, may have reached just a handful more viewers than L.A. Creek Freak does.

Video Capture from the other L.A. River Kayak Expedition

Video Capture from the other L.A. River Kayak Expedition (click to watch)

I also found it fascinating that the email went to twenty distribution lists. Count ‘em! Twenty!  It’s a powerful issue that needed to be disseminated far and wide.

Lastly I was glad to see, in the author’s signature block: “The mighty” Los Angeles District.  I write and say “the mighty Los Angeles” now and then, but in a fairly tongue-in-cheek way. It’s reassuring that the USACE chiefs say it too – apparently it’s in this person’s recurring signature block.  It probably goes out to hundreds of people every day.

Time to dust off my kayak and videocamera and head out to the river. Care to join me?

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§ 4 Responses to Of Nexus and Navigability: Part 5 – USACE: no ifs ands or boats!

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