Politicians and river advocates make it official: $100 million coming to LA River revitalization

California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, at the podium, confers with Irma Munoz, of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, before the beginning of today’s press conference in Marsh Park. Sen. Robert Hertzberg, left, Congressman-elect Jimmy Gomez holding his daughter, center, and Sen. Henry Stern all took turns to laud $100 million in new state budget funding to restore and revitalize the Los Angeles River. Although restoration details remained sketchy, the focus will be on creating parks and open spaces along its banks for the city’s most disadvantaged communities. (Jim Burns)

 

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Volunteer Opportunity: FoLAR’s river cleanup returns with three April dates

If you haven’t gotten your hands dirty at one of Friends of the Los Angeles River clean-ups, now is your chance. I participate most years, and you get to meet like-minded people, as well as pull all kinds of crazy gunk out of the LA River. Here are this year’s dates:

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Who knows what in the heck you might help pull out of the river. (Jim Burns)

Saturday, April 15 | 9 a.m. – noon | Upper River

Saturday, April 22 | 9 a.m. – noon | Mid River‎

Saturday, April 29 | 9 a.m. – noon | Lower River‎

The website has much more information, as well as the paperwork you’ll need to fill out. In the meantime, enjoy some sitar music (bottom of page) from a few years back to help you make up your mind to participate!

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Volunteer opportunity: Tuesday, Nov. 22, Sepulveda Dam

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Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR)

Sepulveda Basin Fish Survey
Tuesday, Nov. 22

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS

8 a.m., arrive at meeting site – The park gate on Burbank Boulevard, just west of Woodley Avenue. This is the kayak loading site and it’s roughly a quarter-mile upstream from Sepulveda Dam.

8:30 a.m., William Preston Bowling will greet everyone with liability waivers. Volunteers signed in, put on waders/sunscreen, and took the fishing gear and buckets down to the river at site 1 and Anglers bring their own gear and valid fishing license.

We are collecting fish to observe and throw back, showing all your catch to biologists once caught, they will decide what species to keep for toxicity study.

This will be the second outing of the third “Los Angeles River Fish Studies” created by FoLAR. This study is in Partnership with Stillwater Sciences and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Check out FoLAR’s past studies here:

http://folar.org/wp-content/uploads/studies/fish-study-2008.pdf

http://folar.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2016_FoLAR_LongBeach_FishStudy.compressed.pdf

William Preston Bowling
FOLAR  (310) 428-5085

Volunteer Opportunity: Fish Willow Street this Wednesday with FoLAR

DSC_5695 Long Beach Fish Study May 13 of 2014 photos by William Preston Bowling

ALL IN: Are you ready to discover fishing in a restricted area of the river in Long Beach? (William Preston Bowling)

If you are free to help fish Willow Street in Long Beach on Wednesday from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m., please let William Preston Bowling at FoLAR know by RSVPing wpb@folar.org. He’ll fill you in on the particulars, including where to meet. 

The group will  walk the bike path with elected officials to show them that recreational fishing around Willow Street is possible, and instead of using their imagination it would be awesome for them to look down and see a bunch of anglers enjoying recreational fishing.
Catch & release only.
See you on the river, Jim Burns

Third annual Off Tha’ Hook is ‘bass in action’

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MARY JANE GARCIA gets little help from her brother as she poses with her trophy and bling. (Jim Burns)

On a cloudy Saturday, the third annual Off Tha’ Hook fishing throwback got off to a solid start as 20 adult anglers descended the riprap to the river. What happened to the additional 17 fishers who signed up is anyone’s guess, but some speculated that the change of location, from North Atwater Park to the Bowtie Parcel could have contributed.

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WINNER KEN MORRIS contemplates which  Trout Unlimited flies he received as gifts for joining the organization will match river aquatics. (Jim Burns)

Whatever the reason, action started early when Chris Manno of Los Feliz hooked a beautiful largemouth bass with his spinning rod and lure. He looked to have it going on into the home stretch until Ken Morris, also of Los Feliz, also hooked a bass, which, when inspected by the biologist Rosi Dagit, turned out to be 2 centimeters longer as well as heftier in the midsection. Morris also landed another bass and two green sunfish.

If we were horse racing, it would have been a win “by a nose.”

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A BASS gets measured before being returned to the river. (Jim Burns)

This was a first, in that carp have won the grand prize the last two years.

Meanwhile, the kids event really took off this year, perhaps doubling in size from 2015. A hundred children and teenagers had to go through four checkpoints with their parents before getting a rod and heading down to the water.

In the kids’ division, Mary Jane Garcia, 9, of Koreatown, caught not one, but two small carp.

When asked what her spinning rod bait was, her father gave a knowing look. After all, he’d nearly landed a carp earlier in the adult division.

“Tortillas,” he said, “just plain tortillas.”

Yes, the tried and true LA River carp elixir.

Meanwhile, Elijah Rodriguez, 16, of Los Angeles also won in the kids division for a beautiful, large tilapia.

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IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY to get in some casting practice, especially in matching blue T-shirts. (Jim Burns)

Also, this year, besides being at a new site, three fly fishing clubs supported the tournament, Pasadena Casting Club, Downey Fly Fishers and the Southwestern Council, which is actually composed of more than 20 area fly fishing clubs. PCC again donated a box of flies; and Downey was busy tying flies for the kids to use on the river. Patagonia donated more than $700 in gear, and Harley Davidson also contributed prizes this year as well.

Trout Unlimited provided lots of fly casting instruction, in which the object was to get the unhooked fly to set off a mouse trap. TU’s Bob Blankenship and Drew Irby are men of infinite patience, setting and resetting the traps, as well as untangling more than a fair share of birds’ nests.

Finally, Ken Jarrett, of Morro Bay, netted a minuscule Mississippi Silver Sides, winning the “rarest species” award.

“That’s the first time we’ve found one of those in the LA River,” Dagit said.

Below is video proof that there’s really nothing like catching your first fish. This video, taken by Bradley Martin, shows his son Wyatt hooking a fish for the first time.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

FoLAR announces release of third river study

Hey, now, let’s get happy. Friends of the Los Angeles River just released “State of the River 3: The Long Beach Fish Study.IMG_1130

As the organization’s founder writes in the introduction: “The first time I came to Willow Street in Long Beach was to announce our first LA River cleanup in the 1980s. We called for 10,000 people to join us in trash collection and only about 10 showed up. “ He goes on to say that most would have seen this as abject failure, but, as an organization that thrived on failure, it was surely a win, instead.

Lewis MacAdams recounts how that failure lead to its first grant, one that chronicled the 200 some odd bird species living in and around the river.

Later, in 2008, came the mid-river fish study, revealing that nature is just damned hard to kill, even with our best efforts. Participants found hundreds and hundreds of non-native fish living in the Glendale Narrows section of the river, by Atwater Village.

Today, you can read about the efforts of more than 130 professional scientists and amateur anglers, all coming together to support both FoLAR and the Aquarium of the Pacific in this latest release. Five fishing events, coordinated by the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains and FoLAR, plied the brackish waters from May, 2014 to August, 2015. The story of what was – and wasn’t – found unfolds herein like a good mystery. Rich field notes catalog water quality (surprisingly good), days and times of the study, numbers of participants and anglers, gear used and fish caught.

And, as with many things, it could be an odd experience. For example, one day, trash collected in seine nets lists:

— condom                               — surgical glove

— tea kettle                            — Doritos bags

— ketchup                              — trash bags

— men’s brown sock

As Robert Blankenship, president of the South Coast Chapter of Trout Unlimited, who lives in the area, writes, “I visit and fish this area regularly. I’ve caught a bunch of carp, with a few big catfish and some smallish largemouth bass thrown in” and goes on to lament that on the very hot survey days the anglers “demonstrated why it’s called fishing, not catching.”

The big prize of the survey was a tiny, native fish that literally swam into the hands of one volunteer. Dabin Lee, a California State University Los Angeles student, caught a Killifish.

Dr. Sabrina Drill, natural resources advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, notes in the book that “For some, the measure of ‘functioning’ ecosystem is whether it supports native biodiversity,” and goes on to write that by that measure the in-stream community is failing. But, given the robustness with which Angelinos now fish and kayak its waters, “the meaning of the suite of fishes in the river now is open to interpretation and depends a bit on your starting point.”

WHOA! Check out the lateral line on this beautiful, rare mirror carp Jihn Tegmeyer and friend caught. (John Tegmeyer)

WHOA! Check out the lateral line on this beautiful, rare mirror carp John Tegmeyer and friend caught. (John Tegmeyer)

Still Drill regrets the absence of native species, and there is no denying that the king we all wish to return to our area, the endangered Southern California Steelhead, is missing from this and the Glendale Narrows survey.

Although there are several photographs of two steelhead in Ballona Creek in 2008, as Rosi Dagit, RCDSMM senior conservation biologist, writes “Most years, fewer than 10 adult steelhead were seen throughout the whole area, concentrated in just a few rivers and creeks.” That is down from runs of literally thousands of fish in the 1940s, which has been well-documented in the Los Angeles Times.

“We thought for sure there were steelhead trout lurking in the river at Long Beach, waiting for concrete removal so they can make their way back upstream as they did for the last time in 1940, but no such luck,” writes William Preston Bowling, FoLAR’s special projects manager. “The California Killifish was discovered in this study and could be an indicator for water temperatures that a steelhead could survive in.”

To this end, it’s imperative that the billion-dollar re-imagining of the Glendale Narrows area go beyond architecture and new housing. What’s important for the steelhead is also supremely important to us: better water quality, reducing river water temperatures and restoring riparian function, as Dagit notes elsewhere in the text.

So, if you missed volunteering for Willow Street, don’t despair, the work continues, moving to the upper river and a chance to sign up for Wednesday’s field excursion.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Volunteer Opportunity: FoLAR’s Sepulveda Basin Fish Study, Wednesday, June 29

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Red-eared Slider (Courtesy Charles Hood)

UPDATE: Sadly, this event has been canceled due to a lack of grant funding. Stay tuned for the reboot. 

Greeting fellow fish lovers!

We would love help to conduct the fish survey near Sepulveda Dam on Wed 29 June.
Details below! Please RSVP as we are looking for a crew of about 6 volunteers to assist with seining, but can use all the anglers we can find to help with catching by fly or standard rods. You need a valid CA fishing license to participate.

WHAT: Friends of the Los Angeles River “State of the River 4” — The Sepulveda Basin Fish Study

WHEN: Wednesday, June 29, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

WHERE: Meet at the dirt road turn off Burbank Blvd. Email for exact location and directions.

WHAT YOU NEED:
– Waders if you have them or come prepared in closed toe shoes (no tevas or open water shoes) and be prepared to get wet to your waist.
– Hat, sunscreen, water, lunch, snacks, etc.
– Angling gear and fishing license if you want to fish!

Let me know if you are interested in joining the fun! thanks, Rosi

Rosi Dagit
RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains
540 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd
Topanga, CA 90290
310.455.7528
rdagit@rcdsmm.org