LOS ANGELES — Through the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, the city has hundreds of community projects proposed, with some already taking shape. One such site, North Atwater Park, hosted a unique ceremony Oct. 9 where a private company donated funds to the non-profit group Friends of the LA River who, in turn, donated $970,000 to the city for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District’s Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study.
“The Corps has led a planning process, where we identified problems and opportunities along the river,” said Chief of Planning Division Dr. Josephine Axt. “We’ve narrowed our area of interest to an 11-mile stretch from roughly Griffith Park to downtown. This month, we’re starting our higher headquarters policy compliance review. We’ve done a lot of work that has resulted in alternative plans.”
In regards to the LA River, public safety remains the Corps’ number one priority. That said, there are three significant portions of the river that offer a semi-natural river bed; the Sepulveda Basin, site of the Paddle the LA River Program, the Glendale Narrows and 2.6 miles of soft bottom after the Willow Street drop structure which is an inter-tidal estuary.
“We have always enjoyed a partnership with LA County Flood; it’s been 70 years,” said Col. Mark Toy, Los Angeles District commander. “During that time, it has always been about flood risk management, the safety of our people and that’s why long ago we channelized the river. Now, we can look at things like flood risk management in the same sentence with ecosystem restoration and recreation.”
Ecosystem restoration projects, like this one, are a major share of the Corps’ workload. The District is also working on water quality improvements and recreation opportunities along the Tres Rios in the heart of Phoenix, Ariz. As Toy mentioned, it is all in keeping with the District’s motto, “BUILDING STRONG and Taking Care of People!”