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L.A. River Excursion: Tujunga Wash Greenway

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In many corners of the San Fernando Valley apartment complexes are stacked side-by-side, main streets are jammed packed with cars, and strip mall signage break the skyline. In the middle of this dense urban sprawl lies a serene, lush natural space, which five years ago was anything but.

The Greenway sits on both sides of the Tujunga Wash, a channelized tributary to the Los Angeles River. A 2-mile walking path (round-trip) runs along the wash, spaced with benches and picnic tables on the south end. The smell of California Sage permeates the air, and swallows fly sporadically from cottonwood to cottonwood. Rather than chain-link, an "attractive" green fence runs along the edge of the wash. A stream running along the path, made to catch runoff when it rains, is dense with buckwheat, mulefat, and coyote brush.

In 2007 L.A. County Public Works restored this stretch of the wash, creating a stream to capture runoff and infiltrate the ground to feed the local aquifer. At Vanowen, a new portion of the stretch recently broke ground in a joint partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which, according to L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, will be complete in five months, connecting the greenway to Sherman Way. Like the recent wetlands in South Los Angeles, it won't look like much to begin with, but given time to mature, it will look much like the current greenway.

Just south of the the greenway, across Oxnard Street along Coldwater Canyon Avenue, is the Great Wall of Los Angeles, the city's largest mural, which runs south along the wall of the wash for a half-mile.

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