River Education Resources
Looking to learn about the Los Angeles River but don’t know where to start?
The River is constantly evolving and a focus of media in Los Angeles. Check back for updates!
Visit Folar.org for links to news articles, information, and current events:
A trip down the LA River on a kayak built from soda bottles.
(Companion to FoLAR’s Watershed Wonders Curriculum, 2009)
The Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan
Revitalize the River (Recommended)
How a Band of Renegade Kayakers Won The L.A. River: The $1 Billion Reinvention of the River That Los Angeles Buried Excellent summary of the LA River’s history and possible future:
Some of the projects are years away from implementation, while some have been partly financed and are ready to start prototype testing. The LA River project is estimated to cost over $1 billion. The city and Army Corps are currently fighting over cost distribution. FoLAR is advocating for a 50/50 split. The involvement of Frank Gehry, renowned architect, could delay the plans for years.
Room for the River The goal of the Dutch Room for the River Programme is to give the river more room to be able to manage higher water levels. At more than 30 locations, measures will be taken to give the river space to flood safely. Moreover, the measures are designed in such a way that they improve the quality of the immediate surroundings and adapt to increased water flow. Completed by approximately 2019. Corporate video clip
Elena Dorfman’s ‘Sublime’ photography imagines a more scenic L.A. River A single picture is actually a collage composed of hundreds of minute details compiled from her original photography and historic imagery of the river drawn from the museum collections.
7 Cities Transforming Their Rivers From Blights to Beauties (8/2016) Los Angeles wants to rethink its river. Late last month, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that Gruen Associates, Mia Lehrer + Associates, and Oyler Wu would be designing the last twelve miles of the Los Angeles River Valley Bikeway and Greenway. The scheme, encompassing a new bike, trail, and park network from Canoga Park, in the San Fernando Valley to Elysian Valley just outside Downtown, is the latest of several initiatives set to transform the former flood control channel into an actual river. The city, county, and federal government are reshaping the river and restoring ecosystems; several parks, trails, and amenities have already popped up; and development is following quickly behind. And LA isn’t the only metropolis looking to reclaim its once-mocked waterway. Cities around the world are realizing that water can be a cultural and recreational asset, not something to hide or pillage, and it seems no waterway will be wasted for long. (Wired)
The site of the new Los Angeles State Historic Park. Corn “cleaned” much of the soil contaminated by chemicals from its use as a train yard.
Learn about a biofiltration (bioremediation), an eco-friendly solution to clean polluted soil. Can this method be used to clean other brownfields? Also, see Taylor Yard in Glassell Park.
Forward Thinking Architects in the 1930s : Olmstead Brothers
Olmstead Brothers proposed plans for the River in the 1930s as an alternative to concrete. These plans are similar to the Revitalization plans today:
Oil Trains Running Through Los Angeles: Crude-oil train wrecks raise questions about safety claims
Resolution against crude oil trains running through Los Angeles neighborhoods and along the River.
Social justice thought: what types of neighborhoods will the trains run through? Will it run through Beverly Hills? Support your answer!
El Nino and the LA River
El Nino has filled our River with new life and billions of gallons of stormwater. The power of the rains has brought new attention to the River, its maintenance, and the impact on the land around it.
The Toxic Saga Behind Santa Susana Field Laboratory
The Santa Susana Field Lab was developed in the late 1940s for rocket-engine tests and nuclear energy research by private-sector and government scientists from Rocketdyne, the Department of Energy and NASA, among others. But it also left contamination in the soil and groundwater that has long been blamed for health problems in the local communities, including higher rates of cancer. Site owners and environmental regulators still don’t know the full extent of the soil and groundwater contamination. (From LA Daily News)
Interesting connection between biofiltration and SSFL: LA Conservation Corps spent 8 weeks working on a “garden” Santa Susana Field Lab (work was paid for by Boeing/SSFL)
Letter from William Preston Bowling (ACME) about the “garden.” No response was received from the organization.
The Native Angelenos: The Tongva People
The native Tongva people coexisted with the Los Angeles River for thousands of years until Spanish colonized the area, the advent of railroads, and the population boom in Los Angeles. The Chumash people lived in the Ballona Wetlands and on the beach. The wetlands were a seasonal outlet for the LA River until channelization in the 1930s. Now the channel outlets in Long Beach. After colonization, the Tongva was also known as Gabrielenos, in reference to the San Gabriel mountains.
Gabrieleno Tongva Mission Indians (KCET broadcast)
More River-Related Topics
1. What are specific sources of major of pollution in the River (point-source pollution)? Sources of non-point source pollution?
Heal the Bay Water Quality Study (Aug. 2016) – New study confirms that River visitors need to follow precautions to stay safe in an urban river.
2. Should Frank Gehry (renowned architect) design new plans for the revitalization of the River? What about Alternative 20?
Army Corps to recommend $1-billion L.A. River project (before Gehry’s announcement)
3. Should the city be allowed to build the Olympic Village beside the River?
4. Recreation in the River – does kayaking, biking, hiking harm the habitat?
Also see Heal the Bay’s Water Quality Study above
5. The web of life today: Should non-native plants and animals be exterminated from the habitat? (Arundo, carp, Canadian geese…) Which native species have survived the urbanization and channelization of the River?
6. What are more eco-friendly methods to flood control?
The Law that Killed the LA River : KCET article on channelization of the River beginning in the 1930s. (optional)
7. Why should youth and the community be educated about the LA River?
Learn about FoLAR’s education program
8. Should developers be allowed to buy land and build housing and businesses on the River? What are the pros and cons of development/gentrification of the area? Also see Alternative 20.
9. How can we use biofilitration to clean the LA River?
10. How can we save water using the River? (revitalization plans, porous ground, reclaimed water, aquifers)
During El Nino 2016, LA collected 400 million gallons of stormwater for replenishment of aquifers in 24 hours.
12. Who should be able to create art on the LA River?
Looking for more information and activities to do on the River?
Read FoLAR’s Watershed Wonders (highly recommended) : FoLAR’s older curriculum is available to the public. Follow a River timeline, a kayak trip down the concrete channel with the Cola Kayak, and find lesson activities and biodiversity surveys.