Angelenos got a rare treat last year when over a hundred participants legally kayaked a 3-mile portion of the Los Angeles River. After the seven-week pilot program--which sold out in a matter of hours--proved successful, many were left wondering, what's next? The 52-mile waterway snakes past many L.A. neighborhoods, but the question of its public use and access for kayaking, canoeing and other recreational activities, continues to be unclear. Could this successful trial run mean more recreational boating down the river? It seems we found the answer.
With summer just around the corner, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have re-emerged with a request for public comment on this year's proposed boating program due this Friday, May 25 at 5 p.m.
According to the notice, the Army Corps is considering issuing one or more licenses for guided non-motorized boating programs along the Los Angeles River within the Sepulveda Basin from June through Labor Day.
Though the notice essentially outlines the same parameters as last year, longtime river advocate and this year's River Hero George Wolfe is dismayed. The Army Corps's guidelines has restricted applications for licenses only to government entities or qualified 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, none of which apply to Wolfe's L.A. River Expeditions.
"I don't believe [the Army Corps] made that specification last year. I still don't know why they did that," said Wolfe, "All I know is that it rules me out, which sucks for me and my constituents. If I weren't able to somehow able to drum up a sponsor to operate under, I'd be out of luck." Wolfe was a key partner in last year's program, guiding tours throughout the duration. It was also Wolfe's lighthearted paddling adventure that galvanized the community and influenced the EPA's decision to declare the river navigable, bestowing on it all the federal protections of a traditional river.
While the Army Corps is looking to operate for a longer period than last year's pilot program, Wolfe notes they're missing a big opportunity by not allowing access during the school year when L.A.'s children would be able to experience the river as part of their academic program. "That's a huge part of getting people on the river is getting youth involved and building the next generation of river stewards." Wolfe point out that from April to November, average rainfall in Los Angeles is less than one inch per month. KCET was unable to reach the U.S. Army Corps for comment.
Have you read through the Army Corps' notice? Should tour operators be restricted to government or non-profits? Would the river be better served if children were able to experience it for themselves during the school year? Let the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers know what you're thinking. Email your remarks to Lisa Sandoval at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 pm. Friday.