This post is in support of Departures, KCET's oral history and interactive documentary project about Los Angeles neighborhoods. The series has extensively covered the L.A. River.Legal or not, the Los Angeles River has seen its fair share of attention-getting boat rides over the past few years. Many believe the 52-mile waterway itself should already be considered a public space, available for kayaking, canoeing and other recreational activities, but the layer of government agencies surrounding it has left the legality of all that in murky waters. Questions of safety, jurisdiction and if it should actually be considered a "river," have all slowed down those aspirations.
Things are about to change.
On July 8th, a number of groups are collaboratively planning to open up a small portion of the river for a limited number of guided kayak tours throughout the summer. Twice a day on weekends, groups of 10 to 14 will be taken onto the waters of the Sepulveda Basin in the San Fernando Valley. Trips along the 3-mile portion will last a few hours and include educational components.
The program is currently under an environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is seeking comments, positive or negative, through the end of June.
All told, only a few hundred will be able to participate this summer, but officials have emphasized this is a pilot program, which in future years could be expanded to the Glendale Narrows and Long Beach estuary. A further step could include boating individually, without the need of guides.
Reservations will cost $50 and be handled online, but a website has yet to be launched. In the meantime, George Wolfe of LA River Expeditions, one of the groups working on the pilot program, says those with interest can subscribe to an e-mail list that will announce when the program is ready.
Other groups involved include the Los Angeles Conservation Corp, Mountains and Recreation Conservation Authority--both which are taking lead--U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Friends of the Los Angeles River, The River Project, Urban Semillas and the Anahuak Youth Sports Association. L.A. City Councilmember Ed Reyes, who chairs the city's river committee, and his staff have also been instrumental in bringing boating to the river.
For a complete guide to recreation along the L.A. River, check out Departures' Field Guide.
Previously: L.A. River: Tour Operators Gain Access, Recreational Zones Identified