Sunday, April 12, 2015

La Gran Limpieza: Giving Back to the Los Angeles River

LA River

If you ever need to make a case to someone why it's smart to ban plastic bags in Los Angeles, just take them down to the L.A. river. The bags are everywhere, along with every kind of trash imaginable -- small things like food wrappers, to big things like shopping carts, hangers, clothes, rubber tires and, yes, even a busted bike.

River Cleanup

The Blogger Kid and I saw all of that, and more, down in the Glendale Narrows portion of the Los Angeles River on Saturday. Our love of the river extends to frequent bike rides (and visits to the Frog Spot) throughout the year, so it only seemed appropriate that we give back. On Saturday, we were two of hundreds who ventured down to the river to help clean it up. It was the Friends of the Los Angeles River's "La Gran Limpieza" -- also known as "The Great Los Angeles River Cleanup." Three hours later, we hauled out hefty bags of trash, and left with a feeling that in a small way we helped give our fragile river a bit more life.

River Cleanup
Just some of the trash found down in our portion of the river!

River Cleanup
It was quite a festive event. Free t-shirts, plenty of snacks and water, even live music (above)!

River Cleanup
The Blogger Kid wasn't even close to being the youngest one there. Volunteers of all ages -- including a few toddlers! -- helped out.

River Cleanup
More info from the Daily News:
Thus began 26th Annual Great Los Angeles River CleanUp, an art, music and food-filled round-up of FOLAR volunteers who aim to scoop 20 tons of trash in the next few weeks.

During the nine-to-noon cleanup Saturday across the San Fernando Valley, hundreds of volunteers descended into the weeds of the river’s non-concrete natural bottoms in sections of Griffith Park, the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, Big Tujunga Wash and Sepulveda Basin.

Next Saturday they’ll scour the middle river around the Glendale Narrows, through Atwater Village and Griffith Park.

Then they’ll march into the lower river on April 18 to skim detritus out of Lower Compton Creek, Willow Street Estuary in Long Beach and the Golden Shore Marine Reserve, one of the last Los Angeles County wetlands. Volunteers can register at

It was 26 years ago that poet Lewis MacAdams founded his Friends of the L.A. River group and held an outdoor fundraiser on the Bette Davis glade at Griffith Park, with political activist Tom Hayden in attendance. Someone toted a kayak, but they had to dredge the river for an effective run.

Since then, the non-profit group has worked to restore the mostly concrete L.A. River into a swimmable, fishable, boatable and bikeable riverway central to citizens of Los Angeles. Plans call for restoring an 11-mile stretch north of downtown in hopes of drawing steelhead trout, for a cost of $1.1 billion.

River Cleanup

The cleanup continues in additional parts of the River over the next two weekends. It's fun and not much of a time commitment -- head to FOLAR's website for more info!

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