Arthur Africano Elijah Sedustine meets the LA River
"I feel a little itchy, I'm not going to lie." Tyler Sedustine has just emerged from the Los Angeles River, his dripping wet two-and-a-half-year-old son Elijah ensconced in his arms. That his first instinct is to hose off will likely strike few Angelenos as strange. Just twenty-four hours previous, the idea of dipping your toddler in the our eponymous waterway could have been deemed not just mildly odd and possibly toxic, but also illegal.
On May 27, however, the city threw open a 2.5-mile stretch, known as the Glendale Narrows and located between Fletcher Drive and Oros Street, for the first time since the whole river was encased in concrete and re-classified as a "flood control channel" back in the late 1930s. Suddenly on the list of approved activities are boating or fishing for the bass, tilapia and catfish who call the river home. "I've been told they're good eating," swore Fernando Gomez, Chief Ranger for the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA), on hand for the official kickoff.
And yes, incidental exposure has been deemed safe, though Gomez doesn't blink an eye at the question. Patiently wrapping people's heads around the idea that it's less concrete wasteland than honest-to-god ecosystem is a major reason why MRCA has joined the Los Angeles River Pilot Recreation Zone program, donating more than a dozen rangers and numerous volunteers to patrol the area during its run from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Sept. 2. "The river is why L.A. is where it is," said Gomez, noting that it once served as the local fresh water resource. Food for thought in our age of reinvigorated water wars.More »