News and Events – 8 January 2011

January 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Act now to save Arcadia's threatened oaks! Photo by ecotonestudios

RECENT NEWS:

> If you haven’t read Josh’s article yesterday about the urgency of action to prevent the county’s astonishingly wrong-headed plans for burying Arcadia’s oak woodlands – read it and take action! Demolition is scheduled to begin next week. Here’s a set of links of  yesterday’s blogger solidarity day post to save this irreplaceable site: Altadena Hiker, ArcadiaPatchBallona BlogBipedality, Breathing TreatmentChance of Rain, Echoes, Greensward CivitasL.A. Creek Freak, L.A. Eco-Village, L.A. ObservedPasadena AdjacentPasadena Daily Photo, Pasadena Real Estate with Brigham Yen, Slow Water!, The Sky is Big in Pasadena, Temple City Daily Photo and Weeding Wild Suburbia. Thanks also to Sierra Madre Tattler!

> Oiled Wildlife Care Network reports an oil spill in the Dominguez Channel on December 22nd 2010. Their team “recovered three oiled birds:  one Pied-billed grebe, which died, and two American Coots.”  As of January 4th, OWCN reports that  “no responsible party has been identified, and the source of the spill remains unknown.” Full story at link.

> ArroyoLover reports on the drawbacks (pun intended) of new archery range fencing proposed for Pasadena’s Lower Arroyo Seco Nature Park.

> L.A.’s Daily News reports a Shadow Hills incident where a “car raced downhill, bouncing over speed bumps before brushing by horse and rider, spooking them to the curb. [The horse was] injured [and ultimately perished] when she became trapped in a storm drain debris screen[...]. The driver did not stop.” Interestingly the article calls for changes to the storm drain trash grates, but seems to let the criminal speeding driver off the hook. Full story at link.

> If you think L.A.’s La Niña rains were bad, read Circle of Blue‘s reports on disastrous El Niño rains in Colombia and Venezuela.

> The Los Angeles Times has an impressive photo of water churning through the San Gabriel Dam during recent tests. Also at L.A. Times: environmentalists file suit to block Newhall Ranch development imperiling the Santa Clara River. And, further afield, plans for the future health of the Klamath River.

> The Project For Public Spaces has an extensive conference proceedings document that serves as a sort of handbook for waterfront design/place-making. Their top recommendations (as distilled by me) are: multiple destinations, connected by trails for walking and bicycling.

Drastic Declines in World Fisheries - New York Times via Cyborg Vegan Cannibals

>Cyborg Vegan Cannibals has two scary graphs on the precipitous decline of world fisheries. One above and the other at the link. Maybe it’s time to watch Dan Barber’s Ted.com video again. (Thanks to TrueLoveHealth for sharing the CVC link!)

UPCOMING EVENTS

> The city of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation hosts a Low Impact Development update on Thursday January 20th 2011 at 1pm at their Media Center Offices. Details at L.A. Stormwater Blog.

L.A. County Bans Plastic Bags

November 16, 2010 § 2 Comments

Plastic bags caught in trees in the Los Angeles River's Glendale Narrows - photo from Nature Trumps

Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to ban plastic bags. The ban takes effect July 2011, and only applies to unincorporated county areas, including East L.A., Altadena, Rancho Dominguez, Hacienda Heights, and similar unincorportated locations. It does not apply to cities within the county, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, etc. This is great news, given the way that plastic bags plague our urban creeks and rivers. Creek Freak doffs our cap to Supervisors Molina, Ridley-Thomas and Yaroslavsky who passed the county ban.

Read more bag ban specifics at Spouting Off and the Los Angeles Times.

News and Events – 12 November 2010

November 12, 2010 § 2 Comments

Spotted yesterday: pre-striping markings on the Elysian Valley segment of the L.A. River bike path. They're three short white lines in the foreground of this photo. Bike path officially under construction since mid-2009 officially opens on December 4th - announcement below, more details soon.

RECENT NEWS

> The Daily Breeze reports that West Basin Municipal Water District’s desalination plant in Redondo Beach opens today, Friday November 12th 2010. Creek Freak Conner Everts “would like to see them do more conservation, reclamation, and then decide if they need a desal plant.”

> At Spouting Off, Heal the Bay’s Mark Gold reports on promising regional water board votes and efforts to reduce trash in local waters. See also HtB’s Ban the Bag rally below.

> Guess the animals and win a poster from L.A. Stormwater. Deadline is next Wednesday November 17th 2010.

> Will Campell bikes the Arroyo Seco and shoots another great riders-eye-view video.

> L.A. Times Greenspace looks into scary drinking water issues in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

> Congratulations to The City Project’s Robert García on being awarded the American Public Health Association’s Presidential Citation!

UPCOMING EVENTS

> Bike the Los Angeles River from Griffith Park to Long Beach this Sunday November 14th 2010, departing at 7:30am from the Autry Museum. Details at Biking in L.A.

> Heal the Bay invites you to a rally to Ban the Bag – at 8:30am on Tuesday November 16th 2010 supporting the L.A. County Board of Supervisors as they vote to ban plastic bags in county unincorporated areas. Check here for details.

> On Thursday, November 18th 2010 at 7pm, the Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University presents Morna Livingston speaking on Steps To Water: The Ancient Stepwells of India. It’s part of the lecture series: Excavating Innovation: The History and Future of Drylands Design. The free public talk takes place at Fletcher Jones Auditorium, Woodbury University, 7500 Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank 91510.

> On Saturday November 20th 2010 from 9am-1pm, the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Council, Council President Garcetti, and L.A. County Public Health host a free Health Fair. The event takes place at the Elysian Valley Recreation Center (1811 Ripple Street, L.A. 90039) and includes a free raffle for a new bicycle, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

> The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation is holding its monthly Ballona Wetlands Community Open House with tours Sunday November 21st from 9:30-1:00. Guided tours leave at 10am, 11am, and 12 noon. Meet at the Fiji Gateway, 1320 FIji Way in Marina del Rey 90292, across from Fisherman’s Village.

> On Sundays November 28th and December 5th 2010, Jenny Price leads the All-Valley L.A. River Thai Noodles & Cuban Sweets Tour. It goes from the start of the L.A. River in Canoga Park to Griffith Park, and includes the Great Wall of Los Angeles mural on the walls of the Tujunga Wash. Tours go 8:30am-4pm, click here for info and to sign up.

> At 12noon on Saturday December 4th 2010 the Elysian Valley portion of the L.A. River Bike Path will officially open. To emphasize the shared nature of the facility, it’s being called the L.A. River Pedestrian/Bike Path.  Creek Freak will post more event information here soon!!

> Duarte dedicates its Encanto Park Bioswale and Outdoor Nature Classroom on Tuesday December 7th 2010 at 9am. Encanto Park is located at 751 Encanto Parkway, Duarte 91010.

Ballona Wetlands Symposium - December 8th

> On Wednesday December 8th 2010 the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission will host a free public Ballona Wetlands Science and Research Symposium. It takes place from 8:30am-5:30pm at University Hall 1000, Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, LA 90045. For info and to rsvp email Karina Johnston kjohnston [at] santamonicabay.org

Hydrology in Richard Russo’s Empire Falls

September 27, 2010 § 3 Comments

Empire Falls by Richard Russo, 2001

I just finished reading Richard Russo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Empire Falls, which I recommend.

It’s definitely not about Los Angeles, but about a river town in Maine. As a Los Angeles Creek Freak, I enjoyed a sub-plot, not even integral to the main story, about their Knox River, the trash that it carried, and attempts to realign its waters.  

(Spoiler alert: I quote from the end of the novel below. While it’s not central to the plot, the river does come back into the picture at the end of the book.) 

Here’s an excerpt from the introductory prologue, describing past events leading up to the present-day (2001) story. Though I couldn’t find a specifically date, it seems like these events take place around the 1950s or maybe ’60s:   

When the bulldozers began to clear the house site, a disturbing discovery was made. An astonishing amount of trash – mounds and mounds of it – was discovered all along the bank, some of it tangled among tree roots and branches, some of it strewn up the hillside, all the way to the top. The sheer volume of junk was astonishing, and at first C. B. Whiting concluded that somebody, or a great many somebodies, had had the effrontery to use the property as an unofficial landfill. How many years had this outrage been going on? It made him mad enough to shoot somebody until one of the men he’d hired to clear the land pointed out that for somebody, or a great many somebodies, to use Whiting land as a dump, they would have required an access road, and there wasn’t one, or at least there hadn’t been one until C. B. Whiting cut one himself a month earlier. While it seemed unlikely that so much junk – spent inner tubes, hubcaps, milk cartons, rusty cans, pieces of broken furniture  and the like – could wash up on one spot naturally, the result of currents and eddies, there it was, so it must have. « Read the rest of this entry »

News and Events – 21 September 2010

September 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Undated historic photo of Red Car trolley crossing the L.A. River below the Glendale Hyperion Bridge. Given the complete lack of vegetation in the river, this was likely right after concrete channel construction. From Coralitas Red Car Property - click on image for link

 

NEWS 

> Culver City construction on the Ballona Creek bike path from Overland Avenue to the Westwood Avenue pedestrian bridge. Looks like another good creek revitalization project, but bicyclists should expect detours now through January (Culver City Bicycle Coalition

> Federal funding secured for the Watershed Council’s Water Augmentation Study (Congresswoman Linda Sánchez

> Downstream cities are installing nice single-purpose gray grates to keep trash out of the Los Angeles River (L.A. Times and L.A. Now - also earlier Creek Freak coverage, though we somehow missed coverage any accompanying source control efforts.) 

> Genetically modified salmon coming soon to a plate near you? (L.A. Times Greenspace

> Beautiful graphical history of the meanderings of the Mississippi River (NPR

> Long Beach awarded grant for river parkway wetlands restoration project at DeForest Park (Supervisor Don Knabe

EVENTS 

> L.A. River panel tomorrow September 22nd (Zócalo

> Coastal CleanUp Day on September 25th 2010. (Heal the Bay

> Jenny Price River tours on September 26th and October 3rd (Hidden L.A.

> Ballona Wetlands Science and Research Symposium on December 8th 2010. (Creek Freak

(Just the headlines, m’am, courtesy of Joe being busy with CicLAvia – come and check it out on October 10th!)

News and Events – 7 August 2010

August 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Lewis MacAdams, poet and activist and the Los Angeles' BFF

NEWS

>In yesterday’s L.A. Times, Patt Morrison has an interview with Lewis MacAdams, founder of the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), and, as Morrison aptly puts it, the river’s BFF.

Below are two excerpts, for the full story, go here.

FoLAR turns 25 next year. As the ’70s phrase goes, is it still all about consciousness-raising?

When we started, I thought all I’d have to do is convince people the river can be a better place. I quickly began to understand that first I had to convince people there actually is a Los Angeles River. That took a long time.

Before the river was channelized, it moved across the floodplain. So that channel we see has nothing to do with what the river looked like before. Now the river has kind of reached people’s consciousness, and that makes it much easier to do what we do. So now we can go into specific issues.

I called it a 40-year artwork. I vastly underestimated how long it was going to take. My theory was, it took 40 years to screw it up; it’ll take 40 years to fix it. Somebody said no good idea is ever accomplished in one lifetime. Ultimately the river’s going to be there. My attitude is, if it’s not impossible, I’m not interested.

Is it the Donald Rumsfeld river — the river you have rather than the river you wish you had?

No, you start with the river you have and then go to the river you wish you have. One advantage when we started FoLAR was that there was not much room for nostalgia. There was no “backwards” to go. We really had to think: What is a postmodern river, a human-surrounded river? The L.A. River symbolizes all the damage that human ego has done to the natural world; it seems to have this symbolic presence.

>Urbanophile covers Cincinnati‘s nearly-complete riverfront revitalization, with some great-looking renderings. 

>Long Beach and other lower Los Angeles River cities are spending $10M in federal stimulus monies to install grates to keep trash out of the river. Watch ABC video coverage here.

EVENTS

>Tomorrow, Sunday August 8th 2010, at 7am, Audubon hosts a shorebird watching event, on the Lower Los Angeles River. It features Kimball Garrett, bird-expert from the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. It’s free and starts at the Willow Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River in Long Beach.

Videos: Whittier Narrows Trash, Sustainable Fish

March 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s a busy week helping put the final touches on the L.A. StreetSummit, so instead of my usual voluminous writings, I am just linking to some videos that I think L.A.’s creek freaks will enjoy. The above video interview with birder Ed Barajas is from my friend Terry Young’s Bug’s Eyes. Though it’s ostensibly about the problems with all the trash that washes into the Whittier Narrows, I was impressed by hearing all those bird calls in the background!

Below is an excellent 20-minute video from TED.com featuring chef Dan Barber on how we raise fish sustainably. It’s very funny, and really makes ecological connections to our food chain.

News and Events – 6 January 2010

January 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

SOME RECENT CREEK FREAK NEWS:

>Heal the Bay executive director Mark Gold’s Spouting Off blog  has an excellent 2-part series called Memo to Antonio - outlining a progressive environmental/water agenda for L.A. in the year ahead. To read it, click here1 and here2. Gold’s recommendations include many of L.A. Creek Freak’s favorite topics: Low Impact Development (LID),  Stream Protection, improved Water Quality and more! TreePeople’s Andy Lipkis also recently weighed in on LID.

>The San Gabriel River has newly completed guerilla landscaping – in Pico Rivera. Shade of Ernie’s Walk and Portland City Repair!

Trash boom on Ballona Creek - yeeech! Photo from the South Los Angeles Report

>The South Los Angeles Report tells about teaching science using the story of trash in L.A. waterways and in the Pacific Ocean. Read and watch their findings here.

>The city of Pasadena is working with neighbors to preserve and improve Annandale Canyon - which is nestled in between West Pasadena and Eagle Rock. More information here. (Thanks to Meredith ArroyoLover McKenzie - also read her recent tribute to the York Boulevard Bridge.)

>Lastly, please be careful when exploring local creeks during the wet season. The Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now reports a sad story of a youth and his dog swept away by Brea Creek.

UPCOMING CREEK FREAK EVENTS:

>Albion Dairy River Park community input meeting this Saturday January 9th at 10am at Downey Recreation Center. Info at the project website at albionparkproject.org

Bresee Foundation's innovative Bimini Slough Ecology Park - which features a creekbed bioswale that cleanses street stormwater run-off before it enters Ballona Creek. Photo from calrecycle.ca.gov

>On Saturday January 16th, C.I.C.L.E. hosts a free, beginner-friendly bike tour of urban gardens. Ride leaders include L.A. Creek Freak Joe Linton (tha’s me! and yes – interested party plug alert - I get paid to do this) and ride features brief tour of the Bimini Slough Ecology Park and water harvesting gardens at L.A. Eco-Village.

>Jenny Price leads FoLAR’s tour of the Mighty Los Angeles on Sunday January 24th.

Making Connections Between Tobacco Control and Water Quality?

October 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

Other folks clearly made the connection before I did. This is a Coastal Clean-Up Day poster from a couple years ago, designed by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

The CigEgret. Other folks clearly made the cigarette-watershed connection before I did. This is a Coastal Clean-Up Day poster from a couple years ago, designed by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

In my capacity as bicycle advocacy group C.I.C.L.E.‘s campaign director, I attended a meeting this morning which had an inordinately long name: the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Center for Disease Control and Prevention Funding Opportunity General Stateholder Meeting. The county of L.A. public health department is preparing two applications for federal stimulus funding. They’re for two separate $10M grants: one for tobacco control and one for obesity prevention, which includes physical activity and nutrition. The county will be applying in December and the 2-year federal grants will be awarded in February.

I was mostly there to see how C.I.C.L.E. might receive funding for reducing obesity by getting folks up on bikes, which, Creek Freak readers know, will also help heal our watersheds. During the explanation of the Tobacco Control and Prevention Program‘s Community Action Program, I overheard something that I think may have implications for watershed programs. Mostly as a part of price controls that would discourage smoking by making it more expensive, one of draft program’s goals is that cities “will adopt an ordinance that requires consumers to pay a fee for the mitigation of litter.” The speaker, Linda Aragon who directs the county’s Tobacco Control and Prevention Program, mentioned that some other cities had already done this.

It occurs to me that there could be a connection with litter mitigation funding and projects that keep trash out of our waterways, as required by the Clean Water Act and the various L.A. County trash TMDLs. TMDL stands for Total Maximum Daily Load; the trash TMDL is a water board regulation that requires cities to prevent trash from going from their streets into storm drains and into rivers, creeks, and oceans. Many cities are fighting the trash regulations because they say that they’re too expensive… perhaps, if those cities are also anti-tobacco, they can pass these sorts of laws and can use a portion of the funding collected to implement anti-trash water quality measures? Sounds like a win-win!

Are any creek freak readers aware of similar tobacco litter mitigation fees from other municipalities? and if any of those funds have helped with water quality projects? Let us know in the comments below. I think it could be an opportunity for coalition building – creek freaks working together with anti-smoking advocates!

And that brings me to mentioning the Blogger Beach Clean-Up happening this Saturday October 24th at 4pm in Santa Monica, where I am expecting to clean up a few cigarette butts. Meet either your favorite or second favorite L.A. Creek Freak, clean-up the beach, and mingle with like-minded eco-Angelenos. You don’t have to be a blogger… just come and help out. Lots of cool prizes! For details, see Green L.A. Girl.

News and Events – 12 August 2009

August 12, 2009 § 2 Comments

Some recent coverage of items that might be of interest to our fellow creek freaks – scroll down for events:

>The Los Angeles Times Greenspace Blog entry Trapping the Rain highlights the Natural Resources Defense Council’s new report A Clear Blue Future: How Greening California Cities Can Address Water Resources and Climate Challenges in the 21st Century. The report  is about Low Impact Development “LID” and how we can build smarter to save water and energy.

>Los Angeles westside property owners can trap your own rain if you apply for the city’s new rainwater harvesting program. If you’re looking to set up your own rain harvesting system (like Homegrown Evolution details here) check out creek freak’s favorite water harvesting expert Brad Lancaster‘s recommendations for selecting the least toxic hose

 >Homegrown Evolution reports on the recent approval of California’s smart new greywater law, designed to make it easier to reuse your greywater. Greywater is “used” water from your washing machine, sinks or showers. Mr. Homegrown will  be teaching a greywater workshop this Sunday – see below. Soak in creek freak’s washing machine greywater system here.

>The San Gabriel Valley Tribune covers the new master planning underway for the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area – 1200 acres where the San Gabriel River and the Rio Hondo squeeze together behind the Whittier Narrows Dam. Also, the Pasadena Star News reports that the Altadena Foothills Conservancy is doing the early planning work to create a new trail system along the Eaton Canyon Wash, which could connect from the foothills above Pasadena all the way down to the Whittier Narrows.

Bixby Marshland - photo from LACSD

Bixby Marshland - photo from LACSD

>The Los Angeles County Sanitation District website profiles the Bixby Marshland – a 17-acre remnant wetlands located near the intersection of Figueroa and Sepulveda in the city of Carson. They’re looking for volunteers to help steward the site.

>The City Project is about to unveil new proposals for Griffith Park on the East Bank of the Los Angeles River – a future Los Angeles River park on the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks 28-acre Central Service Yard, located at the end  of Chevy Chase Drive in North Atwater. The city is already planning to restore a small remnant creek in one corner of the site.

>Federal stimulus money is helping make the Los Angeles River healthier (though creek freak would like to see it do a whole lot more!) Funds are being used to provide trash capture devices that prevent trash from getting into the river (via Spouting Off.) They’ll be installed in about a dozen downstream cities from Vernon to Montebello to Long Beach. There’s also some federal funding planned for reworking the “Shoemaker Bridge” where the 710 Freeway crosses the Los Angeles River near downtown Long Beach. The project includes doubling the size of Cesar Chavez Park. Let’s hope that it doesn’t hasten the expansion of the rest of the 710 Freeway - a huge threat to restoration on the lower river

>An odd little video featuring a homeless man fishing by throwing rocks into the Los Angeles River (thanks Jeff Chapman.) See creek freak’s earlier post on fish in the L.A. River

>And, for bridge geeks, Blogdowntown reports on the city of Los Angeles’ Cultural Heritage Commission instructions for the city’s bridge engineers to consider more preservation options as they plan to demolish (*sob*) and replace the monumental 1932 6th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River. The proposal is to widen and straighten the bridge into freeway proportions. Creek freak feels a wave of despair just writing about this wrong-headed project and its “let’s destroy our heritage while bringing way more cars into dense urban areas” mentality. Here’s a grim rendering of the proposed “3-dual tower cable supported viaduct.”

Proposed 6th Street Bridge Replacement - click for link to larger version - from Blogdowntown via Flickr

Proposed 6th Street Bridge Replacement - click for link to larger version - from Blogdowntown via Flickr

Upcoming events to explore and get involved with local creek freaks:

>The excellent documentary movie Tapped shows today and tomorrow at the Arclight theaters in Hollywood. Showtimes hereCreek Freak’s review here.

>This Sunday August 16th at 11am, Homegrown Evolution offers a greywater workshop called “D.I.Y. Greywater: Hack Your Washing Machine

>Friends of the Los Angeles River is hosting a few upcoming Los Angeles River clean-ups. On Saturday August 22nd they’ll be at the Sepulveda Basin, and Saturday August 29th at Taylor Yard. There will also be river sites at this year’s Coastal Clean-Up Day coming up on September 19th.

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