LOS ANGELES, CA— Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other leaders to highlight progress made to restore the Los Angeles River Watershed and call attention to projects underway to transform it into a model urban waterway and park.
U.S. Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard and Adam Schiff, California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman, and Omar Brownson from the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation also joined today's event in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles River Watershed has twice been identified as a priority project for the Obama administration under the President's America's Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP). Both initiatives seek to reconnect Americans to the great outdoors and revitalize urban waterways in underserved communities across the country.
“Today we are celebrating the partnerships that are transforming the Los Angeles River watershed into a national symbol of how once-neglected urban waterways can be cleaned up and restored to improve the quality of life and boost the economy in America's communities,” said Secretary Salazar. “Once known for pollution and poverty, these watersheds can become model urban parks cherished for their trails and access to river recreation.”
“We are grateful that the Obama administration has made the LA River a priority through America's Great Outdoors and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “By working together, we can create an emerald necklace of parks, walkways, and bike paths that will protect the river's environmental integrity and promote access and economic growth for all Angelenos.”
Among the priority projects identified in the America's Great Outdoors Initiative is the Los Angeles River Trail. Almost 5.7 million people live within 10 miles of the trail, which connects urban residents to a network of the region's great parks and outdoor recreation areas.
The City of Los Angeles has committed to connecting people to the river and trail through the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, which has identified more than 240 potential projects to restore riverside habitat, increase public access to the river and promote recreational opportunities around the river. Furthering this goal is the Corps' proposed study to map out specific projects to transform a concrete lined river into an ecological and recreational treasure.
As part of America's Great Outdoors, over the next 12 months, Interior and other federal agencies will partner with state and local stakeholders to focus on supporting the City of Los Angeles' efforts to implement the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan along the nine-mile Glendale Narrows reach of the river, with a focus on recreation.
Interior and partners will improve recreational opportunities by enhancing existing trails, developing a sign program for access and interpretation, and assess water-based recreation such as kayaking and canoeing.
The Los Angeles River Watershed is one of seven pilot areas under the Urban Waters partnership, which involves 11 federal agencies. Secretary Salazar thanked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for her leadership in launching this partnership, and transformative work in the city.
As part of the urban waters partnership, in the next year federal and local partners will sponsor an Urban Waters Ambassador to work alongside local partners and accelerate on-the-ground projects; complete the restoration and expansion of the North Atwater Creek park; build a new campground at the Hansen Dam Recreational area in Lakeview Terrace; complete construction of a new wetlands park to provide much-needed recreational opportunities in South Los Angeles; and establish a 3,000 foot greenway along the Tujunga Wash, creating wildlife habitat that connects with an existing wildlife corridor.
The factors that make a great urban waterway, a great urban park, and a successful urban community are the same—committed residents, access to a great river and adjoining green space, clean water, and protection of the natural assets that draw residents and tourists to the waterfront.
For a fact sheet on the Los Angeles River watershed, please click http://www.urbanwaters.gov/pdf/losangeles.pdf.