Check out new Mountains Conservancy survey tool (it’s cool)

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Hello Community Partners/Friends,

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is soliciting feedback for their ongoing efforts around the Upper LA River & Tributaries plan. They have released a bilingual survey tool for community organizations and residents alike to fill out. This tool offers the ability to view layers such as: the literature review and compilation, identified opportunity sites and design areas, and is also an opportunity for you to provide feedback. Please visit the link below and complete the survey and share with your neighbors/constituents/community members.

https://gis.tetratech.com/mrca_ulart/
The survey will be available until Sept. 5.

Please submit any questions regarding the survey tool to river@smmc.ca.gov.

Sincere regards,

Fernando

Fernando R. Morales
Senior Field Deputy, West/Metro LA
O: 310.231.1170
C: 213.379.2807

Look to Montana for habitat restoration and fishy inspiration

I just came back from an enlightening trip to Butte, Montana, ground zero for turn-of-the-century copper extraction, just as Thomas Edison discovered electricity and the USA wired the entire country to go from candles to light bulbs. Millions of miles of copper wire came from ore extracted in Butte. As a result, tons of extremely toxic mining waste polluted the area’s water and fouled the landscape, killing off thousands of trees.

Butte gets rich, then goes bust

Richest Hill on EarthButte got rich and richer, then went bust. One hundred-plus years of mining left 10,000 miles (not a typo) of mines beneath the city. At one point, more than 100,000 souls called it home, many Irish immigrants; mining shifts worked around the clock, and Charlie Chaplin complained he’d “never worked that hard in his life” because of having to play to multiple shifts of miners as they got off their shifts. Today, the population has decreased to around 34,000, up 4,000 in the last decade.

Better times ahead

Butte is experiencing a bit of a Renaissance, with a freshly minted film festival, good spots to stay and to eat, close airport access to the Big Hole, one of America’s premier freestone rivers, fly rods designed by women, for women, and a fine local bourbon.

As I fly fished my way around the area, the LA was on my mind. I caught cutthroat trout in Silverbow Creek, where wading would have been dangerous just a few decades ago.

Cutthroat
A beautiful Cutty, caught at a former Superfund cleanup site. (Jim Burns)

Environmental Protection Agency officials declared it a Superfund cleanup site in 1983.

So, for inspiration about what our river could become as it loses its concrete straitjacket, check out this video. Next carp you catch, squint your eyes and see what it might become.

 

See you on the river, Jim Burns

 

 

‘Wild LA’ invites readers to explore urban nature

Let’s get to know the Great Blue Heron, although it could just as easily be the Monarch Butterfly, or the Black Bear, or even the Red-eared Slider.

All of these creatures have their own pages in the breezy and fabulous new book “Wild LA,” created by the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.

When the rest of the country thinks of LA, it’s Disneyland, beaches, babes, wildfires, but probably not our wildlife. Yet, this pithy guide would have us “explore the amazing nature in and around Los Angeles.”

To accomplish this for the reader, the museum put together a formidable cast of writers and photographers, including Charles Hood, who teaches English and occasionally journalism, shoots engaging nature photography and writes in his book-jacket biography that he is a reformed birder, who stopped counting at 5,000 species.

He and the book’s other authors explore what the term “urban nature” means in several essays about wild Los Angeles, including one about water and the LA River, viewed through the journal of Franciscan missionary Gaspar Portola some 200 years ago, to its current-day role as “an unlikely gem in the city — still a place for wildlife to survive and for humans to thrive.”

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THE AUDUBON SOCIETY was created at the end of the 19th century, in part by women activists, to regulate the feather trade and bring herons and other birds back from the brink of extinction. Believe it or not women’s hats — and the huge amount of feathers needed to create tens of thousands of them — were to blame. (Jim Burns)

Going back to that Great Blue Heron, in the field guide section of 101 LA species readers learn he stands some four feet tall, with a wingspan of six feet. Fair enough. But what makes this book such a gem is that once you’ve read up on a favorite species — and probably discovered many a new one in the book’s pages — the text cross-references trips to areas where, with a little patience,  you can see them.

Sure enough, our Great Blue Heron can be spotted on five itineraries in the book’s final section that features 25 trips for nature lovers, including the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, Ballona Wetlands and the LA River at Frogtown. Here, herons hunt with that impressive, sharp bill any unwary “fish, frogs, crayfish, lizards, snakes, mice, birds, grasshoppers and dragonflies.”

Make room for this fun guide in your day pack and don’t forget your fly rod.

Wild LA

By Lila Higgins & Gregory B. Pauly

with Jason G. Goldman 7 Charles Hood

332 pps

$24.95

http://www.timberpress.com

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Sixth annual River Day highlights a river on fire

The Los Angeles River continues to be scalding hot, and that’s not just the summertime temps of the water. Two big river events in two days this week, the official groundbreaking for the Taylor Yard Pedestrian Bridge, followed by the sixth annual River Day at City Hall.

The city has worked on being “riverly” since — 1988 — according to former Councilmember Tom LaBonge who retired in 2015. It’s been a long road with our community still waiting for promised federal dollars to the tune of $2.6 billion to restore the river’s habitat.

Let’s count down what’s happened since the last River Day. The slogan could be “connect, don’t neglect” as underserved communities regain the connections lost to the construction of a concrete flood control channel:

Taylor Yard Pedestrian Bridge
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI, center, and friends broke ground on the Taylor Yard Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, which will connect Elysian Valley to Cypress Park. Once complete in early 2021, the $20 million bridge will be roughly 400 feet long with an 18-foot-wide passageway for cyclists and pedestrians. (Credit Jim Burns)

— Four new and-and-bike friendly bridges to connect communities: Taylor Yard Pedestrian Bridge, North Atwater Village, Red Car Pedestrian Bridge and Verdugo Wash Bridge that will connect Glendale to L.A.

— Friends of the Los Angeles River’s celebrates the 30th annual LA River Clean-up and begins #CrackTheConcrete fundraising campaign. It’s a classic FoLAR campaign that is pro Taylor Yards/G2 River Park and its long-promised habitat restoration and con Casitas Lofts, a 420-unit housing development.

— LA River, Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, to get $4.3 million from state budget for restoration.

— Opening of Albion Riverside Park in Lincoln Heights.

— $18 million in state funding for a continuous bike path along the river. Remember, this is a 51-mile waterway.

— Last week the Environmental Protection Agency awarded $500,000 to help clean up the polluted soil of Taylor Yard/G2.

— Councilmember David Ryu takes on chairmanship of river committee from Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.

“Some day the LA River steelhead will come back,” Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said at the river celebration, echoing what FoLAR co-founder Lewis MacAdams said for many years to anyone who would listen.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

A request from the children of Lewis MacAdams

Visionary poet Lewis MacAdams pictured by his beloved Los Angeles River.

Update: As of June 10, Thank you for your extraordinary generosity and kindness toward our Dad. Because of your support, we have raised more than $40,000 for his care, from close to 150 people.

Many of you know our dad from his work as an activist for the L.A. River and as a poet.  You may have seen him striding across the bank of the river at a clean-up, his eyes on a future he helped to realize; invoking frogs and blue herons in poems that also honored the hard-edged beauty of the city he loves; or writing op-eds and fundraising letters that combined humor with a stubborn insistence that the impossible is possible.

We are writing to ask your financial support at a critical moment in Dad’s life.
  He is currently living in assisted living facility in Los Angeles, as a result of his Parkinson’s and a stroke he suffered in 2015.   Despite these challenges, he is moving ahead with the same stubborn will that helped revitalize the River: he still welcomes regular visits with friends and colleagues and is meeting weekly with journalist Julia Ingalls, who is helping him write an autobiography, entitled Poetry and Politics.

That said, the cost of care is significant and we are seeking to raise $200,000 to support his long-term living expenses and all the medical costs related to it.  These costs are not covered by Medicare and his funds are nearly depleted. The need is urgent.

We are hoping you can help Lewis in his time of need.

Here is the link to the GoFundMe site.

https://www.gofundme.com/a-request-from-the-children-of-lewis-macadams

Thank you again for your help.

Sincerely, Natalia, Ocean, Torii, and Will MacAdams