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.

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