Editorial: What will define an LA River Ranger?

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Last fall, the legislature passed AB1558 with little fanfare. In fact, I hadn’t heard about it until I received an email this week from River LA extolling me to take a survey to help “ensure that the River Ranger Plan reflects your community’s needs.”

I’m a survey sucker, so I enthusiastically began filling this one out, checking boxes. But when I came to the screen above I had a sad realization: Once again, the fishing community that grows more vigorous with each passing spring carp spawn, was sidelined as a recreational activity.

Enjoy biking? It’s covered, no problem.

How about kayaking? Oh, yeah, during the rec zone months, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, it’s made a splash.

Bird watching? Sure thing. There are birds a plenty, and you might even want to pick up Prof. Charles Hood’s “A Californian’s Guide to the Birds among Us” to better understand what feathers you’re seeing.

But when it comes to fly fishing and spin fishing, well, get ready to fill in the “other” box.

As a constituency, it’s time for all of us to wake up and start making some noise, a recurring theme of this blog. Note that the committed, spendable money going to the river is actually going around the river  with a focus on creating parks and open spaces along its banks for the city’s underserved communities. That’s great — there are boxes for both “visit a park” and “picnic” — yet when I’m on the river, I don’t see many doing either one. And, how many on horseback have you actually counted on the river while you were casting?

Time is ticking away and it’s not in our favor. Surveys such as this one should holler a wake-up call to our growing community that you are all but invisible to the powerful interests taking control of our river.

If nothing else, please click on the survey and let the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy know that what you like to do on the river is fish.

Personally, I’d like to see an LA River Ranger with a 6 weight in one hand and a net in the other.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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