Running for the River
Last weekend I joined the team Runners at LAW (LA Waterkeeper) for the LA River 10K. It was promising to see so many Angelenos take advantage of recreation along the LA River, which is more famous as a movie backdrop for car races than for its’ riparian habitat. But that association is starting to change.
Several organizations have taken efforts to transform how the city’s residents relate to their river. The LA River Corporation started the Greenway 2020 Campaign with the goal of creating a continuous 51- mile greenway corridor complete with sustainable parks, dining options, and even renewable energy potential. The LA River 10K is the first of a series of races that will increase distance every year, leading up to a 20 mile run celebrating the unveiling of the corridor in 2020.
In addition, the federal government is evaluating what could be a significant restoration project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has targeted an 11-mile stretch of the river in its’ LA River Ecosystem Restoration Study evaluating different alternatives for restoration, including restoring stream-side vegetation and freshwater marsh habitat, and improving water quality.
This movement is a powerful compliment to LAW’s work. Restoring the river and its habitat and enhancing recreation are important parts of improving water quality. However, the sources of industrial pollution discharging into the LA River also must be addressed for the city to finally reach its goal of a healthy river ecosystem. Through advocacy and litigation, LAW works with industrial facilities that pollute the LA River, like scrapyards and waste transfer stations, to improve their environmental practices and reduce their discharges.
-Maggie Hall, Law Fellow