For Your Viewing Pleasure: Turtles, Ballona Bikes, Dorothy Green and more!

October 25, 2008 § Leave a comment

Here are some on-line videos that all us creek freaks might enjoy:

>Los Angeles Times account of Aquarium of the Pacific’s healing and release of an injured San Gabriel River sea turtle (Great video – with fascinating x-rays of broken turtle flipper bones. Kudos to the great work of the Aquarium of the Pacific staff and the Times’ Louis Sahagun. There are also sea lions in the San Gabriel River.)

>KTLA news coverage of Ballona Creek Bike Path issues (via LA Streetsblog, includes Ballona Creek Renaissance’s Jim Lamm)

>Dorothy Green with Creek Freak bloggers (Jessica and Joe) talking with Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes on the city’s L.A. River Report public information channel

>Hook TV on How to fish for carp in the Los Angeles River

>Jeffrey Tipton’s Montage on the July 2008 Los Angeles River Boating Expedition organized by George Wolfe (Coming soon: an actual high production value trailer about this expedition. Also, check out George’s kayak commute video.)

>A group I don’t know about called LA River Story has done a somewhat accurate trio of documentaries beginning with San Fernando Valley tributaries: The Great Wall of Los Angeles Mural on the Tujunga Wash, the adjacent Tujunga Wash Greenway, and what they’re calling the beginning of the river in Chatsworth.

>Turn Here’s Down by the (L.A.) River (How many errors can you spot in Creek Freak Joe Linton’s brief appearance? Be grateful that I don’t plan to blog on restaurant recommendations any time soon.)

>Meeting of Styles Graffiti Murals Event (These murals were later painted out)

>Insidious Bliss (A bleak and beautiful documentary on crystal meth addiction and homelessness in the Glendale Narrows stretch of the L. A. River)

and lastly a couple of not entirely successful attempts at Los Angeles River Humor:

>Stewart Paap in search of the LA River (“Easy access, huh?”)

>Deep Sea Fishing in Studio City (My favorite part of this are the outtakes and the brief scene where the actor steps around the construction fence – I plan to blog soon about my frustration that the city of Los Angeles’ Studio City Riverwalk has been fenced off for more than a year.)

Dorothy Green – A Life Well Lived

October 13, 2008 § 1 Comment

Passing along some sad news I just received from LA City Public Works Commissioner Paula Daniels:

Pamela Blackstone)

Dorothy Green at the May 2007 Heal The Bay Benefit Dinner (Photo Credit: Pamela Blackstone)

“Dorothy Green passed away today, in the pre-dawn hours. Her spirit is now among us in the light on the water, and in all the good work you do every day. Memorial services will be held Thursday October 16 at 2 pm, at Mt Sinai Hollywood Hills, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Dorothy’s honor to one of the organizations she founded: the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN); the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, and Heal the Bay. Her most recent efforts were focused on C-WIN.”

LA Creek Freak has covered some of recent work of Dorothy Green (1929-2008): her great new book, a recent interview and editorial. She’s been a long time activist; a stalwart for local and regional environmental and water issues.

[Updated 10/14 and 10/21] Links to Dorothy Green remebrances:

Mark Gold’s (Executive Director of Heal The Bay) Spouting Off Blog

Los Angeles Times Obituary

Tim Brick (Board Chair of Metropolitan Water District) via Aquafornia Blog

LA & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council via Aquafornia Blog

and here’s LA City’s LA River Report video featuring Dorothy Green, and those two zany Creek Freak bloggers.

Recent News, Upcoming Events 2008 October 8

October 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

An occasional round up of the very creekinest items that come across my virtual desk:

Use a Kayak, Lose your Job: On October 8th the San Jose Mercury News reported that Army Corps of Engineers biologist Heather Wylie is threatened with a 30-day suspension because she participated in the recent Los Angeles River kayak expedition. “Her supervisors found out about it when they saw a photo of her on the kayak trip on the Internet, according to the notice of proposed suspension letter.” (Note that Creek Freak was jealous that the less-than-100-pound Wylie navigated the river so much more easily than I, who frequently scraped concrete bottom. Creek Freak’s trip blog here: day one, two and three.)  *UPDATE Additional Links:  Army Corps Suspension Letter (pdf) Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) legal response letter (pdf) LAist Photo of Wylie from July 2008 LA River trip

“We have enough to live on, but not enough to waste”: On October 8th, the Los Angeles Times ran this editorial by Dorothy Green calling for sane and sustainable water policy. (Thanks Aquafornia)

Calabasas’ Award for Concrete Removal: On October 2nd, the Acorn reported that the city of Calabasas’ Las Virgenes Creek Restoration Project was honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers Metro Los Angeles Branch. Read about the project here.

Say It Ain’s So: On September 29th Blogdowntown reported that studies show that the 6th Street Bridge will need to be replaced. This 1931 bridge is magnificent. Creek Freek fears that city proposals to widen it into a mini-freeway will be a travesty. I hope to blog about this sometime soon.

Upcoming Events:

The city of LA’s Stream Protection public meetings continue, Friday October 10th (1:30pm at City Hall) and October 17th (7pm at the Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center in Van Nuys.) It’s important that environmentalists attend!

L.A. Unfolded: Maps from the Los Angeles Public Library opens at the Downtown Los Angeles Central Library’s Getty Gallery next week. Rumored to have some incredible old maps of the Los Angeles River, the exhibition will be on display from October 15th through January 22nd 2009.

The Venice Neighborhood Council, Heal The Bay, Santa Monica Baykeeper and others host a State of Our Ocean Town Hall Meeting – Thursday October 23rd at 6pm at Westminster Avenue School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice.

Bike Ballona on October 25th

Bike Ballona on October 25th

Concerned Bicyclists of the Ballona Creek host the inagural Tour de Ballona on Saturday October 25th departing at 11am at the Culver/Sawtelle entry to the Ballona Creek bikeway. CBoB came together to make the Ballona Creek bike path safer.

Jenny Price leads Friends of the LA River’s river tours: Sunday October 26th and Sunday December 7th. The December tour starts in Long Beach and marks FoLAR’s initial regular tour of the Lower Los Angeles River.

Join LA City Council President Eric Garcetti for A Day at the River – Saturday November 8th from 9-11:30am at Crystal Street Bicycle Park in Frogtown.

Urban Photo Adventures hosts Unexposed: the Los Angeles River photography tour on Saturday and Sunday November 8th and 9th. More of their great photos here.

Recommended Reading Strikes Back

October 2, 2008 § 1 Comment

Creek Freak rides the bus and the train, so he reads a lot (both while waiting and while in motion.) Here’re a few more water and river books that I just finished and highly recommend to you.

Managing Water by Dorothy Green

Managing Water by Dorothy Green

Managing Water: Avoiding Crisis in California by Dorothy Green (2007, University of California Press, $14.95 paperback)

Dorothy Green is the founder of some of the most important progressive water activist organizations – including Heal the Bay, the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, the California Water Impact Network, and probably more that I am not aware of. I really enjoyed Managing Water not only because I learned a lot about water, but also, perhaps chauvinistically, because it’s finally a statewide water book with plenty of focus on Southern California. There are other books that cover the whole state, but don’t give as much attention its bottom half. One example of this is California Rivers and Streams: The Conflict Between Fluvial Process and Land Use by Jeffrey F. Mount . Please don’t get me wrong – that’s an excellent book, and I do recommend it (I learned a lot from it about sediment and the way streams are shaped,) but it’s not so much about Los Angeles. Northern California readers will probably have the same criticism of Green’s book… but then again, perhaps this bias may be justifiable in that Southern California has the most population, imports the most water, and therefore needs to play the biggest role in avoiding crisis.

Managing Water focuses on water supply, which is, unfortunately, somewhat divorced from stream health in Los Angeles (p.72 shows that local water provides only 15% of the city of LA’s supply.) Green makes this connection by taking us through the basics of the Los Angeles River story and how we went farther and farther afield to import water. From there she details the various sources of water supply, and the massive tangle of local water agencies. If you’ve ever wondered things like “just what does the Water Replenishment District do?” or Green has the answers for you – see page 84. The charts and diagrams are excellent. I especially like the story that the per capita water use charts (p.168, 169) tell: due to the successes of conservation work (some of which Dorothy Green spearheaded), Southern California’s water usage has remained flat while our population has grown.

I highly recommend this book. It has plenty of great information for folks who are new to water issues, and plenty of details that creek freaks like me can pour over. There is a looming crisis in California’s water supply with sources of Southern California’s imported water in decline, but Green remains hopeful that we can manage our water wisely for people and the environment.

Excerpt: There is enough water for our growing population, for agriculture, and to restore much of our ecosystems decimated by water transfers. We are that inefficient. We can have it all. We just need the political will to make it happen.

Rivertown edited by Paul Stanton Kibel

Rivertown edited by Paul Stanton Kibel

Rivertown: Rethinking Urban Rivers edited by Paul Stanton Kibel (2007, MIT Press, $22 paperback)

The book is a collections of essays about urban rivers. These include chapters on the Los Angeles River (by Robert Gottlieb and Andrea Misako Azuma), the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. (by Uwe Steven Brandes), the Chicago River (by Christopher Theriot and Kelly Tzoumis), City Creek in Salt Lake City (by Ron Love), the Guadalupe River in San Jose (by Richard Roos-Collins), the Army Corps of Engineers (by Melissa Samet), grassroots river networks (by Mike Houck), and the Mississippi River in New Orleans (by the editor Paul Stanto Kibel.)

Gottlieb and Azuma’s piece on the Los Angeles River focuses on the story of the 1999-2000 “Re-Envisioning the L.A. River” the year-long series of events that was a collaboration between Occidental College’s Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) and the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) – with an eye toward how this influenced the successful campaign for a river park at the Cornfields site – now Los Angeles State Historic Park.

All the essays are good, but my favorite is actually Roos-Collins’ piece on the Guadalupe River. It’s interesting to have a window into understanding some the complicated negotiation processes between agencies and advocates to move their project forward. It’s actually an inspiring tale that, instead of ending in rancorous legal clashes (as are all to common in Southern California’s water and restoration struggles), the parties were able to negotiate agreements that have resulted in a beautiful downtown river parkway and enhanced habitat for anadromous fish.

Excerpt: In September 2000, the final event in the Re-Envisioning series, a mayoral candidates’ debate about the L.A. River and the urban environment, was an animated discussion about the Majestic Realty project [industrial development proposed at the Cornfields], alternative scenarios about the site, and general river renewal issues. Each of the candidates present either declared opposition to the Majestic project or sought to slow down the fast-track approach… The mayoral candidates’ debate in turn suggested that the political climate around the project had significantly changed. “It is hard to adjust to the fact that the L.A. River has become a kind of mom and apple pie issues,” [FoLAR founder Lewis] MacAdams commented to Gottlieb immediately after the debate.

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (1974, Vintage, $13.95 paperback)

Well… it’s a stretch to claim that this entirely within the theme of this blog… but I just read and enjoyed this dark and strange book and was really taken with a passage that perhaps invokes the primal power of a rain-swollen creek. Cormac McCarthy can really write! Where would our authors, our stories, our metaphors, our language be without our streams?

Excerpt: He crossed a fence into a half flooded field and made his way toward the creek. At the ford it was more than twice its right width. Ballard studied the water and moved on downstream. After a while he was back. The creek was totally opaque, a thick and brickcolored medium that hissed in the reeds. As he watched a drowned sow shot into the ford and spun slowly with pink and bloated dugs and went on. Ballard stashed the blanket in a stand of sedge and returned to the cave.

When he got back to the creek it seemed to have run yet higher. He carried a crate of odd miscellany, men’s and ladies’ clothes, the three enormous stuffed toys streaked with mud. Adding to this load the rifle and the blanketful of things he’d carried down he stepped into the water.

The creek climbed his legs in wild batwings. Ballard tottered and rebalanced and took a second grip on his load and went on. Before he even reached the creekbed he was wading kneedeep. When it reached his waist he began to curse aloud. A vitriolic invocation for the receding of the waters. Anyone watching him could have seen he would not turn back if the creek swallowed him under. It did. He was fast in the water to his chest, struggling along on tiptoe gingerly and leaning upstream when a log came streaming into the flat. He saw it coming and begin to curse. It spun broadside to him and it came on with something of animate ill will. Git, he screamed at it, a hoarse croak in the roar of the water. It came on bobbing and bearing in its perimeter a meniscus of pale brown froth in which floated walnuts, twigs, a slender bottle neck erect and tilting like a metronome.

Git, goddamn it. Ballard shoved a the log with the barrel of the rifle. It swung down upon him in a rush and he hooked his rifle arm over it. The crate capsized and floated off. Ballard and the log bore on into the rapids below the ford and Ballard was lost in a pandemonium of noises, the rifle aloft in one arm now like some demented hero or bedraggled parody of a patriotic poster come aswamp and his mouth wide for the howling of oaths until the log swept into a deeper pool and rolled and the waters closed over him.

He came up flailing and sputtering and began to thrash his way toward the line of willows that marked the submerged creek bank. He could not swim, but how would you drown him? His wrath seemed to buoy him up. Some halt in the way of things seems to work here. See him. You could say that he’s sustained by his fellow men, like you. Has peopled the shore with them calling to him. A race that gives suck to the maimed and crazed, that wants their wrong blood in its history and will have it. But they want this man’s life. He has heard them in the night seeking him with lanterns and cries of execration. How then is he borne up? Or rather, why will not these waters take him?

When he reached the willows he pulled himself up and found that he stood in scarcely a foot of water. There he turned and shook the rifle alternately at the flooded creek and the gray sky out of which the rain still fell grayly without relent and the curses that hailed up above the thunder of the water carried to the mountain and back like echoes from the clefts of bedlam.

Recent News, Upcoming Events 2008 September 18

September 17, 2008 § 1 Comment

An occasional round-up of news and events. Act now as these links tend to get kinda stale kinda quickly.

Urban River Turtles: on August 30th, the L.A. Times reported that Endangered Green Sea Turtles have taken up residence at the mouth of the San Gabriel River.

Long Beach Buy River Greenway Parcel: on September 11th, costar.com reported that Long Beach has acquired land for their L.A. River Greenway. The parcel is located between 6th and 7th Streets on the west side of downtown Long Beach.

Urban River Hippos, too?: on September 17th a Downtown News editorial cartoon blatantly favors dangerous invasive species in our local waterways.

Layers of Cornfield History: on September 17th, the selfsame Downtown News reports on archaeologists invading our cornfields.

“I don’t look back, only forward.” : on September 17th, L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez interviews Dorothy Green, founder of Heal the Bay and the California Water Impact Network and one of our heroes.

Upcoming Events:

California Coastal Clean-up Day takes place this Saturday September 20th from 9am to 12noon at beaches, parks, creeks and rivers near you.

The 2008 Frogtown Artwalk is also this Saturday. It opens with a 4:30pm Los Angeles River walk hosted by yours truly. It’s a great stretch of river – come on down.

Friends of the Los Angeles River hosts Riofest on October 2nd and 4th, including music by Very Be Careful!

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