Quick mends: Cleaner urban rivers attract fly fishing


Saturday's rally brings Councilmembers O"Farrell (left) and Cedillo, to the bull horn in Marsh Park. (Jim Burns)

Saturday’s rally brings Councilmembers O”Farrell (left) and Cedillo, to the bull horn in Marsh Park. (Jim Burns)

While we all wait for a decision from Washington about the fate of the Los Angeles River, here’s something to ponder: urban rivers in both the United States and Europe are experiencing major cleanups, moving them from dumpsters to recreation areas.  World Rivers Day, which was celebrated yesterday, should give us all some tangible goals when it comes to fly fishing urban waters.  Consider:

The River Wandle, which runs through central London, went from a haven for brown trout where the disabled Lord Nelson tossed a line in the early 1800s,  to an officially declared “open sewer” by the 1960s.  Now, thanks to vastly improved water quality, trout actually spawn again in the river.  A £2 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnership Scheme means that the river literally won the lottery in June.

And much closer to home is Denver’s South Platte, covered extensively by the Fly Carpin‘ blog.

Environmental scientist John Novick told the Denver Post this summer “the city has a stated goal of improving water quality for all streams and lakes so they’re fishable and swimmable. We’ve got some issues with elevated background levels of arsenic, and fish are pretty sensitive to arsenic. It’s not a level that’s harmful to human health.” Denver has banned urban camping, an issue that affects cities nationally, a social justice issue with consequences for water quality.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency is funding the new Urban Waters Small Grants to improve water quality, and will award grants of $40,000-$60,000 up to $1.6 million, according to its website.  The Los Angeles River watershed is one of 18 eligible geographic areas. The deadline is Nov. 25.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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