Last year's recreational zone on the Glendale Narrows was a success on all metrics. It attracted residents from all parts of Los Angeles, improved perception of the river, and even added to the community's sense of safety. But it came at the cost of more than 1,000 man-hours of patrolling, with no additional funding from the city.
This summer the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) hopes to replicate its success with the help of the community, by launching a River Safety Unit, made up of volunteers who will roam the river on foot or on a kayak, keeping a watchful eye over activities in the river. They will assist and advise people enjoying the recreational zone, help protect the Los Angeles River, and promote responsible use of the river.
MRCA Chief Ranger Fernando Gomez says the idea came from similar volunteer programs run by the agency. Currently, there are ten mountain bike units that patrol areas in Whittier, Hacienda Heights, and La Habra Heights. Like the Mountain Bike Units, the rangers will train the River Safety Unit volunteers for one to two days. Their education will include training in first aid, CPR, and interacting with the public.
Since the program is on a volunteer basis, the schedules available will be flexible and will depend on the volunteer's time, though it would be ideal, Gomez says, to get a commitment of at least four hours from each volunteer. He adds that volunteers will all be paired, so they will not be handling situations alone, and that a ranger will be on-hand to help them with any more serious emergency situations.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and should be able to pass a fingerprint criminal background check. Aside from these, there are no other restrictions from volunteering. Interested parties can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. "We're looking for as many volunteers as possible," said Gomez, "There's really no limit when it comes to making the river a safer place for the community."