Month: May 2011

L.A. Confidential: Ogden River Restoration Project

This post is “The best of times and the worst of times” for me.

How can you not be happy as a fly fisherman to see the city of Ogden and various players have come together to rebuild this urban river? On the other hand, even with the leverage and political will gaining for our river everyday, we have many, many miles to go before we sleep. To wit:

I want to LEGALLY fly fish our river.

I want to LEGALLY kayak in our river.

I want to LEGALLY walk along its banks.

If you know of other restoration projects that readers of this blog would enjoy, please e-mail me. And thanks to Fly Fishing Frenzy for getting the word out on this wonderful restoration project. Watch the video on the site below.

Below is the article taken from the Connect2utah.com site

The Ogden River runs right through the middle of the city. This river has had over 100 years of abuse and neglect and now the city and a host of others are doing something about it.

Andy Dufford of Chevo Studios has been chosen to create a public art piece in conjunction with the river restoration project. His proposal “Water Cycle” is a public plaza with seating and interactive sculptural elements located along the banks of the river. (Courtesy Ogden City Arts)

It was one year ago that Ogden City announced their plans for the Ogden River Restoration Project. The river from Gibson Avenue to Washington Boulevard was not a place you would find many fisherman, let alone families. Abandoned houses, litter and industrial waste kept most people from enjoying this river. But since last January a lot has changed.

“We found trash dated back to the 1870′s,” said engineer Crystal Young, Ogden River Restoration Project. “This is a good example of how the river has been filled by urban development in past practices. And so you can see all of this concrete and cars and trash has filled this native bank and buried these trees and built these banks up to where I’m standing now. All of this is going to be excavated down to the tree level and pulled back as you can see upstream in sections we’ve completed.”

The river bank and the riparian zone has been restored to its more natural state. Thousands of tons of debris has been removed.

They’ve taken out five to seven whole cars, about 14,000 tons of concrete, several car parts, thousands of tons of scrap metal, lots and lots of tires, about 250 cubic yards of shattered glass.

“Up near the brewery, it was a layer about six feet deep,” said Clint Ormond.

But this project is much more than just removing the garbage. Over four thousand tons of boulders have been placed on the river edge to stabilize the banks and put into the river to create habitat for fish. 40 thousand new plants will be planted and these storm water returns have been built to filter the cities storm drains.

“As the storm water drains in here, the plants and the pond itself will capture the garbage and the sediment from the streets. Keep a lot of the salt and oils captured in these ponds and keep it out of the river,” Clint said.

“We’ve tried to make aspects all along this project for everybody. We’ve got some great backdrops here. We’d like to see people playing in the river, fishing, taking pictures. We want to give a little piece of nature right in downtown,” Justin Anderson, Ogden City Engineer.

Fishermen say the restoration project is making a world of difference.

Lee Salazar has been fishing the Ogden river since he was a boy, “Not too bad. Shoot I’ll take them home and fillet them. My wife has been telling me go get me some fish.”

Lee says he’s seen rapid improvements.

“Two months ago, there was beat up houses that people had burned and it looks beautiful now. Compared to the way it used to look, I love it.”

The Ogden River has a good population of brown trout. But last fall, the DWR stocked this portion of the river with thousands of 10 to 12 inch rainbow trout and just last December.

The DWR released an additional 600 18-22 inch rainbow trout some pushing five pounds.

“We have been stocking for a number of years the upper reach of the Ogden River where there is better habitat than there was down here historically. But ever since Ogden City and the other partners have implemented this large scale restoration project there’s actually habitat here in the lower reaches,” said Ben Nadolski, DWR Aquatics Biologist.

“The difference is transformational Adam, it’s a night and day difference. It’s actually transforming a river back into a river,” Nadolski said.

“And those fish is what we want to promote. Hopefully someday we can even call this a Blue Ribbon Fisher. That would be a goal somewhere in the future where we can sustain that growth. We love this river and we are setting it up, it’s expensive, it’s costing a lot of money,” said Bob Geier, Ogden City River Coordinator.

Funding for the $5 million restoration project has come from, Ogden city, the DWR, the Utah Water Quality Board, Trout Unlimited and others. But they still need $1.5 million to complete the project and you can help. To donate, contact the United Way of Northern Utah and designate your donation to the Ogden River Restoration Project.

“The community deserves a place that they can connect with nature again and have a place where they can come and recreate in the outdoors,” said Crystal. “I just think it’s going to be the greatest community asset to Ogden.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Earth Quotes: L.A. Councilperson Ed Reyes

At today’s special meeting of the Ad Hoc River Committee, its chair, Councilperson Ed Reyes, offered these choice words:

“Whole habitats are just dying. It’s no longer just the coral reefs. There are whole classes of wildlife, of fish. You know what’s amazing — depressing — but you can just see the veins of this pollution going into the ocean. They showed the East Coast and the West Coast, and L.A. was a major artery — our trash.

Councilperson Ed Reyes chairs the Ad Hoc River Committee (courtesy photo).

So I think the key here is to oscillate from these bigger picture issues to the core role of our departments of our city, and how we spend our monies. There’s connectivity there, dialogue…

OK, maybe the city’s not here to save the ocean, but if we take care of our own backyard and deal with these issues incrementally, it does have a positive effect. I want to keep pulling that back into the discussion, and to the core values of the city.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Earth Quotes: Ken Whitman

This quote from Ken Whitman, publisher of  Organic Connections Magazine, reveals our particular moment in history:

Ken Whitman, publisher of Organic Connections Magazine (courtesy photo).

“Human Thinking 1.0 (Western Edition) was overall a pretty nifty mental operating system. Testament to this is the fact that we’re still here after all these years. But of course there are bugs that we can’t continue to ignore. We seem to inevitably end up periodically in armed conflict and have made rather a mess of our economy, our environment and our health.

The biggest problem with the system is that, while we are all interconnected in a myriad of ways, Human Thinking 1.0 is not a networked system. It functions on the basis of what’s good for me or us and largely ignores the resultant effects created in other areas.

This brings us to the next evolution in cognition and reasoning: Human Thinking 2.0, which is currently in beta testing.”

You can read the entire editorial in the latest edition.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

The Sweet Spot: Deep Creek

He’s a natural, even though rainbows are considered a non-native species to Deep Creek. (Jim Burns).

UPDATE: Take Deep Creek off your fishing radar until the drought ends. You’ll find little water and few fish. Also, because this is a protected area, if the native fish die out, that will also be the end of this once beautiful water because it won’t be stocked. Don’t add to their stress by catching them.

With free time in hand, most fly fishers from Pasadena head for the West Fork of the San Gabriel, or roll the dice above the Jet Propulsion Lab in La Canada. Why we ignore Deep Creek in the San Bernardino Mountains is a mystery. After all, it is a state-designated wild trout stream, meaning no farmed fish, only naturals. According to literature, it hasn’t been stocked by the Dept. of Fish and Game in over 30 years. Rainbows are the game; browns, the hope.

The ‘bows on Deep Creek keep on fighting (Jim Burns).

Will and I drove the quick hour and twenty minutes to Lake Arrowhead, getting into town in time for lunch. With an Adventure Pass in hand ($5 for a one-day; $30 for a year, available at Orvis on Lake; Sports Chalet or Big 5), we drove the additional 10 minutes around the lake until Hook Creek Road, which turns ugly for autos when it becomes 2N2GY, forest speak for dirt. If you’re not four-wheelin’, watch your oil pan. His FIT made it back to Pasadena, unscathed.

Following the road down a gentle canyon, if you turn right, you’ll hit a concrete bridge with plenty of fishing opportunities, or turn left and you can walk to the confluence of Deep Creek and Holcomb Creek. The creek runs about 22 miles from its beginnings in the San Bernardinos north into the Mojave.

Hikers can spend a fun day walking the Pacific Crest Trail, and, if energy permits, enjoy a dip in the Deep Creek Hot Springs (clothing optional).

Last Saturday, the water temp was 57 degrees, while the sun warmed the air to 80 degrees. Dries weren’t happening, but the nymph action was ridiculous; hungry (wary) fish kept us guessing throughout the several hours we spent coaxing them out of the many holes and riffles on the creek.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick mends: ‘mousing’ the new The L.A. River

Question: exactly how much time have you wasted this week (it’s not over yet …) “browsing” the Web?

I’d have to answer “lots.” Always on the snoop for info about our river, I came across the new (to me, and copyrighted this year) The LA River. According to a press release, “The Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation (LARRC), set up by the City of Los Angeles and funded through the Community Redevelopment Agency, has launched a comprehensive, state-of-the-art website at http://www.thelariver.com. It contains hundreds of maps, user guides, photos, development activities, information about the Corporation, a store, and more.”

There apparently is no limit on the number of carp you can take from the L.A. River. But ... who determined this? Certainly not the California Dept. of Fish and Game. (Courtesy http://www.thelariver.com)

Fair enough. Take a look and you’ll see that the site breaks the river into three fishing spots: Lake Balboa, Glendale Narrow and the Long Beach Estuary. Earlier this year, fisher-friend David Wratchford and I wondered about the estuary, and what might lurk to be caught there. Then, we wondered about the legality of fly fishing those waters.

Now we read on this new site:

“Today, although fishing in the river is not an officially-sanctioned activity, since it is currently illegal to walk in the river channel below the bike paths, officials rarely cite the many anglers regularly seen along the soft-bottom sections where fish are to be found.”

True, it’s a far cry from the infamous days when the Duckman had the Griffith Park rangers on speed dial, and would not hesitate to contact them when he saw folks with poles angling the perfumed waters.

Yet, you have to wonder how any elected official can have his cake and eat it, too. How can fishing not be officially sanctioned (in fact, illegal, according to a release given out to the press earlier this year from Councilperson Ed Reyes office), yet turn up on a publicly funded Web site under “Fishing the L.A. River?”

Access to the river means just that. It’s time to officially saction fishing in designated areas of the river. No more double speak!

See you on the river, Jim Burns