While it has been been public knowledge for a while, today Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa officially announced the selection of the Los Angeles River for President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative as well as being designated an Urban Waters Federal Partnership site. A group of over a hundred river advocates and politicians were in attendance at North Atwater Park, adjacent to the river. With these designations the Glendale Narrows, a 9 mile stretch of the Los Angeles River, will be reviewed through a federal partnership with 11 agencies, including the Interior Department, to build parks, restore wildlife, and improve water quality.
These agencies include: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Corporation for National and Community Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Transportation.
John Kemmerer (Associate Water Division Director US EPA) at a KCET Departures StoryShare event April 30th, 2011 in conjunction with the Mayor's Day Of Service, explains the value of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership and its forthcoming announcement later that May (2011).
The value is in the partnership with the agencies, according to Melanie Winter, director of The River Project, as it will open up opportunities for funding. A challenge in revitalizing the Los Angeles River has been the burden of raising funds for acquiring property, as with the Rio de Los Angeles State Park, or for development of park space. Robert Garcia of The City Project chimes in: "The fact that the federal government has now elevated the L.A. River revitalization to the national level is hugely important... on the other hand there is no money, so that's a challenge. In fact the Army Corps of Engineers is supposed to complete a study of the L.A. River and we were told that as of a few weeks ago, they advised river advocates that they had no money to complete that study."
Nonetheless many advocates were positive, perhaps exuburant, considering that it was just 25 years ago when Lewis MacAdams had to cut a hole in the fence to let us into the river.