Places to Visit: Long Beach Earth Day River Gate

June 29, 2011 § 3 Comments

Earth Day 2007 Los Angeles River Gate in Long Beach

If you’re heading down to tonight’s Willow Gulch tour, you might see this gate as you exit the L.A. River Bike Path, aka the Lario Trail, near Wardlow Road in Long Beach.

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Tour Long Beach’s Willow Gulch aka California Gardens Wednesday Evening

June 27, 2011 § 4 Comments

Thanks to Long Beach Auduon’s Mary Parsell for forwarding this invite to tour the Willow Gulch aka California Gardens this Wednesday evening:

Councilmember Johnson would like to invite you once again to an upcoming tour of California Gardens, the 56 acre undeveloped property behind Sunnyside Cemetery. This property, rich in history, contains a diverse topography, endangered species, native plants, the 2nd highest hill in Long Beach, two wetlands, and a working water basin. This water basin is part of the storm drain network that comes from the 405 freeway, makes its way into the basin, and then flows into another pipe where it exits into the Los Angeles River. The tour will be with Councilmember Johnson and Larry Rich, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Long Beach. The tour will be on: Wednesday, June 29th, 5:30-7:00PM Entrance is located on the corner of 27th St. and California Ave. Plenty of parking available on 27th Street. The property is located at 2700 California Ave. Hope you can join us!

This Creek Freak is glad to see the City of Long Beach take an interest in the habitat quality of the site.  We’ve written about it here (photo! map!) and here. A community effort prevented the ravine of the original stream from being filled – and I hope that daylighting will be in its future.

Long Beach events for Creek Freaks

April 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

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Two events that Long Beach Creek Freaks might like:

Today, Saturday  (happening, er, now) is a trash cleanup at the Willow Gulch/Walnut Springs site. Community members fought hard to spare this site from leveling for sports fields in the early 2000’s. The Gulch has a piped, spring-fed stream running through it. In fact, those springs were Long Beach’s original water source – and the source of water for the little hamlet of Willowville (see photos above). The stream is gone, but some remnant habitat recolonized the site. You can hear tree frogs croaking in a retention basin in the late afternoons. The sports field concept has taken the back burner – I am hopeful a more ecological concept take shape.

Tomorrow, Sunday, the Prisk Native Garden in Long Beach is having its open house. Check out 8,000 square feet of native landscaping in a school setting!

Prisk Native Garden Open House for the general public is Sunday, April 3, from one to four p.m.
We’re on the ground of Prisk Elementary School, 2375 Fanwood Ave., Long Beach, CA 90815. From the north take the 405 Fwy. to the Paloverde exit in Long Beach. When you come down the ramp make a sharp right on Los Arcos.
The garden is about two and a half blocks down on the right near the corner of San Vicente and Los Arcos (around corner from school office).

Here’s some news coverage about the garden:

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



> 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


> 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


>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.


>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.

News and Events – 24 March 2010

March 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Image of planned new Riverside Drive Bridge and Roundabout - From L.A. City Flier


>TOMORROW! The city of Los Angeles hosts a community meeting on its plans for the Riverside Drive Bridge. The meeting is at 6pm on Thursday, March 25th 2010 at the Atrium Room of the L.A. River Center at 570 West Avenue 26 in Cypress Park. City flier here.
The city plans to replace the L-shaped Riverside-Figueroa Bridge with a new wider straighter faster deadlier bridge, with construction planned to begin later this year. The L.A. River bike path is planned to extend along the upstream edge of the bridge across the river from Frogtown to Cypress Park. The project (image above) includes a roundabout (traffic circle) at the intersection of Riverside Drive, San Fernando Road, and North Figueroa Streets, where the state is working on its planned Confluence Park. Confluence Park, partially under construction (next to the Home Depot parking lot) but stalled due to state budget issues, will celebrate the historic confluence of the L.A. River and the Arroyo Seco.  Learn more about the project, by attending tomorrow night’s meeting!

>TOMORROW!  The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History presents their Sustainable Salon: Sustaining Our Water at 7pm on  Thursday, March 25th 2010. It’s free and talkes place at the museum’s North American Mammal Hall. Featuring:  Miguel Luna (Urban Semillas), Renée Maas (Food and Water Watch), and Conner Everts (Southern California Watershed Alliance.) For information and to rsvp contact Kim Kessler at 213-763-3463 or kkessler {at} nhm {dot} org. 

>The Theodore Payne Foundation – California Native flora-philes:

  • California Wildflower Hotline  until May 31st 2010 – Find spectacular California wildflower sites – updated Thursdays. Use link or call (818)768-3533.
  • THIS SATURDAY! Spring discount plant sale & Open House Saturday, March 27th 2010, 8:30am-4:30pm at TPF Nursery in Sun Valley.
  • Annual Native Plant Garden Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 10th and 11th 2010, from 10am-4pm – including a free lecture:  In California, the Natives Are Friendly with Isabelle Greene on Saturday, April 10, 2010, at 6:30pm at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood.

>The Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, Friends of the L.A. River, and the Urban Land Institute host On Track: Rivers and Rails Symposium. It’s on Thursday, April 1st 2010 from 3pm-6pm at Metro in downtown L.A. More information here.

>The Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University hosts three free workshops on three Saturdays: March 27th, April 3rd and April 17th. See earlier post for details.

>Save L.A. River Open Space is holding a special meeting on Thursday, April 15th 2010 at 7pm at the Beverly Garland’s Holliday Inn at 4222 Vineland Ave in Studio City.  Featured will be State Senator Fran Pavley and Esther Feldman of Community Conservancy International presenting a vision for a 16-acre Los Angeles River Natural Park  at the former golf and tennis site.

>The L.A. River boating expedition documentary Rock the Boat will screen at Los Angeles Eco-Village on Saturday May 8th 2010. Basic info here, more details coming soon.


Orcutt's Yellow Pincushion - from Ken Bowles Wildflower and Bird Photos - click on image to link to biggified version

>A rare wildflower – Orcutt’s Yellow Pincushion – was discovered at a restoration site in the Ballona Wetlands. The Argonaut tells all!

>Long Beach is labeling its bikeways, and the L.A. River path there is now officially Long Beach Bikeway Route 7.

>Los Angeles’ elected officials and agency leaders have been in Washington D.C. pushing for funding for Los Angeles River revitalization. Los Angeles State Historic Park has the pics to prove it!

>Fishing in the very lush Los Angeles River off Tujunga Boulevard [perhaps Avenue] in 1945? The Museum of the San Fernando Valley has the pics to prove it!

News and Events – 12 March 2010

March 12, 2010 § 1 Comment


Car being pulled from the L.A. River - photo from Long Beach Fire Department website

>Yesterday morning, near the L.A. River’s mouth near downtown Long Beach,  a driver crashed her car through the guardrail on the 710 Freeway and plunged into the L.A. River, where it’s actually about 20-feet deep. Long Beach firefighters rescued her; read more at their website. Television coverage here.


>World Water Day Los Angeles extravaganza is this Sunday March 14th from 9:30am to 3:30pm at the L.A. County Natural History Museum. Read about it on L.A. Creek Freak and even Facebook.

>Jenny Price lead’s Friends of the L.A. River’s river tour, this Sunday March 14th, from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

Next Thursday - check out what Jessica's students have been up to!

>Creek Freak Jessica Hall’s Landscape Architecture students show their designs for how L.A. River restoration can interface with community and rail – on Thursday March 18, 2010 from 3pm-7pm at the River Center in Cypress Park.

UPDATED- Added: >Los Angeles State Historic Park hosts a Go Wild for Wildflowers – interpretive walk showcasing the park’s abundant… you guessed it… wildflowers! It’s free and at 2pm on Saturday March 20th, 2010. Tour the wildflowers virtually, too, via the park’s very own blog.

>Los Angeles County Bicycle Master Plan public meetings continue on March 24th and 25th. Give them input – online or in person – regarding what waterway bike path improvements you’d like to see. Creek Freak explains the county plan here.

> The Theodore Payne Foundation – fine purveyors of California Native landscaping – has a bunch going on:

  • The California Wildflower Hotline  Now through May 31 2010 – Find out about the most spectacular wildflower sites throughout Southern and Central California – updated every Thursday evening with new information. Use link or call  (818)768-3533. Roaming charges may apply.
  • Spring discount plant sale & Open House Saturday, Saturday March 27, 2010, 8:30am-4:30pm at TPF’s Nursery in Sun Valley.
  • Annual Native Plant Garden Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 10 and 11, 2010, from 10am to 4pm – including a free lecture event:  In California, the Natives Are Friendly with Isabelle Greene on Saturday, April 10, 2010, at 6:30pm at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood.

>The L.A. River boating expedition documentary Rock the Boat will screen at Los Angeles Eco-Village on Saturday May 8th 2010. Basic info here, more details coming soon.

Streambank sushi

December 28, 2009 § 2 Comments

Down in Long Beach, streambank stabilization continues.  The Friday before the Christmas holidays, Drew Goetting of Restoration Design Group (in other words, my boss) flew down from Berkeley to train folks working at the El Dorado Nature Center on the process.  Following is a little photo essay on making a willow wattle, for example.

The running joke was how much it was like making sushi.  You lay down your fabric (or seaweed) in a little trench, put in the willow and soil (or rice, fish, avocado…) and roll it up.  Two big exceptions to the analogy:  the wattle needs stakes (we used live willow posts that will sprout into trees) and the sushi roll tastes better.

Soil bioengineering techniques like this have been used for centuries, and have found a resurgence in rural areas of America, as well as in some urban restorations in Northern California.  Willow has long been observed to have tenacious roots that provide natural armoring of streambanks.  And while the roots are strong, the trees themselves are flexible: if they fall over in a large flood, they form a layer that also protects the banks.  But it is important to understand the dynamic interplay between a stream’s structure and how it functions, or forms its channel, however, in order to place these treatments correctly.

Stream restoration projects installed a couple of years ago at the Mountains Restoration Trust (Dry Canyon Creek) and (to a lesser degree) on Las Virgenes Creek also used forms of streambank soil bioengineering – proving that it has applicability here in Southern California.

Stream rehab down in Long Beach

November 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Here’s a link to a project I’m working on, a rehabilitation of the artificial stream at the El Dorado Nature Center.  Sharon Gates with the City of Long Beach is maintaining the project blog to keep the faithful nature center visitors up-do-date on the goings-on in the stream – the area being fenced off for public safety during the construction.  Check out the progress!

The project will be using soil bioengineering techniques like willow postings, willow wattles, etc to stabilize some of the banks that have been subject to erosion over the years.  Small areas will use rip rap or logs to shore up the banks where there’s a lot of foot traffic up to the edge – we want to keep this to a minimum and emphasize the ability of willow and other native riparian plants to hold a waterway’s banks.  Huge quantities of the invasive Brazilian Pepper Tree have been removed, allowing in sunlight which will help the willow take root.

A lot of folks don’t realize the stream is artificial.  The historical condition of the Nature Center area was likely a periodically inundated alkali meadow or fringe area of the wetlands that today are concentrated around Los Cerritos.  Today’s Nature Center provides habitat for lots of birds, turtles and some mammals (including a coyote, I have heard).

My role in the project is pretty small – Restoration Design Group has me doing some construction administration, answering questions about design intent for the City and contractors, Bubalo Construction, who are implementing the project as a design-build.

Travels along the L.A. River with Briar

August 26, 2009 § 3 Comments

Tim and Briar on the L.A. River Lario Bike Path under PCH in Long Beach

Briar walking (perhaps napping) on the L.A. River's Lario Bike Trail under the Pacific Coast Highway Bridge in Long Beach

Creek Freak is pleased to share the following emails from Tim Kirk who, with his daughter Briar, has been exploring the Los Angeles River. I really like what he has to say (below) about our waterways giving us some sense of place. He says it better than I’ve summarized it – read below.

I present his words here, though I’ve added a few links and interspersed some of his photos. Click on any of the photos to see larger images at Tim’s river photo gallery. Thanks, Tim for promoting my book, so I don’t have to.

In early August I received this email:

“Hey Joe,

Briar's first L.A. River Trip - in Atwater Village

Briar's first L.A. River Trip - in Atwater Village

I wanted to thank you for your excellent book on the LA River.  My daughter and I are walking the LA River in pieces.  We started when she was 5 months old and she is now 15 months.  Our first treks were in Atwater Village and headed south through Frogtown.  We walk 2-3 miles, looking for a place to pick up our trip next time.  Having completed this, we then headed north and, in this fashion, made our way through all the walkable parts of the river up to Lake Balboa.  We did a few side trips to tributaries along the way.

We just discovered your book.  Our good friend, Dominique Dibbell sugggested it (she interviewed you when she was editing the Sierra Club magazine.) It has been a blast to read about the areas we have already walked.  We are now headed south and have done two of your walks (Chinatown & The Estuary).  We are also exploring the Arroyo Seco.

Here is a link to our flckr site with an ongoing photo essay of our journey.   I hope you get a kick out of it.

Thanks again and if you see us walking along, say hey!

Tim Kirk (and Briar). 

and here’s a second email I received in mid-August:

Hi Joe,

We’ve been busy on the river.  We made that final trek down to the bay in Long Beach, which was a blast, and the reason for this note: to thank you for the excellent description in your book of the parking situation, and the byzantine trek from there to the river — I doubt we would have found it otherwise.

Briar along the Arroyo Seco in Highland Park

Briar along the Arroyo Seco in Highland Park

We had a fun hike today.  We’ve been heading north on the Arroyo Seco, and finally connected with an earlier walk, at the Archery range.  Next, we’re going to see if we can find a spot to continue, above the Rose Bowl.  Here’s the link again, if you want to see some pictures

This continues to be a cool experience to share with my daughter, even more so as she gets older — now nearly 16 months.  I know that traveling the river has changed my head significantly, my geographical sense of LA has shifted and I feel a certain sense of connectivity between the disparate parts of the city that the river links.  I’m excited for Briar to grow up with this awareness, which I hope will be part of her identity as an Angeleno.

All the best,

Tim Kirk

Briar rides the Rattlesnake Wall in Studio City

Briar rides the Rattlesnake Wall in Studio City

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