LA River plans dwarf LORP

In recent days, the head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency strolled along the Los Angeles River with Mayor Eric Garcetti. The City wants money from the EPA for a $1 billion project to restore and landscape the LA River. The elaborate project once more makes Inyo County residents feel like the forgotten step child. Re-watering of the Lower Owens River was hard fought through the courts, and the river remains mostly unusable.

Boating through the tules.  Photo by Frank Colver

Boating through the tules. Photo by Frank Colver

With as much as $1 billion in federal and municipal money, the City of Los Angeles hopes to restore an eleven-mile stretch of the LA River with elaborate landscaping, marshland habitat, bike and walking trails. It’s still in planning with some local opposition to the cost. Tonya Durrell of LA River Restoration said that plans do not “anticipate that our project will have a significant reliance on imported water.” So, it’s unclear exactly how much Eastern Sierra water will help the LA River Project. Meanwhile, at the source of water for LA, the Owens Valley struggles to make the Lower Owens River navigable and recreation-friendly with marginal success. Los Angeles has offered no financial help.

As river awareness grows among LA people, Inyo County works on a Lower Owens River Recreation Use Plan which was approved by the Board of Supervisors and LADWP. The next step is a final design and environmental review. The main feature is what’s called a paddle trail – a clear area of the river for non-motorized boating or kayaking. Larry Freilich, Inyo Water Department Mitigation Manager, said the Lower Owens Recreation Plan has drawn a lot of interest. Businesses see it as a major way to attract more customers. Outdoors people love the idea of boating and walking along the Owens. So far, a lack of funds and plenty of tules stand in the way.

Freilich said it’s a challenge to clear a desired sixteen miles – two, eight mile stretches – of the river. Tules choke off many areas. But remarkably, Freilich and the river itself have attracted a growing group of volunteers willing to get out there with hand tools and remove the bulrushes. In August, the group cleared 100 yards in a day. Freilich called it “rewarding work in a beautiful environment. It’s given us real hope,” he said. Volunteers cleared about a mile and a third in six days of work from Lone Pine to Keeler Bridge.

While LA pushes for a billion-dollar re-make of its river, even the most modest money is an issue for the river LA dried up years ago. Right now, the funds are not even available to finish the planning and design phase. Freilich said he and others are looking. He said there are grants which would pay for the actual paddle trails. The Recreation Plan includes two paddle trails, a river-long walking trail, fishing access and signage. He hopes to update the Inyo Supervisors in December.

The surprising response of volunteers on the river has given Freilich a lift. He said, “I’m inspired by the people joining in on this.” Bystanders wish the party responsible for the river destruction in the first place would lend a hand too.

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Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

Thinking about the LA River brings memories as I grew up in Reseda and the LA river was our destination for adventure, and exploration into the wonders of nature. I barely can remember the old river bed, but have strong memories of the rock and concrete version . Biking along… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

Wow, I cut way back on my blogging and focusing on how messed up everything is and feel so much better! I have learned a couple of real pretty songs on the guitar, I bought a harmonica, I have gone for long walks and have met some very nice people… Read more »

JeremiahJoseph
JeremiahJoseph
8 years ago

Wasn’t the re-watering of the river for the habitats and much needed riparian areas? But remains unusable? Oh for humans? Psssh…. “Businesses see it as a major way to attract more customers. Outdoors people love the idea of boating and walking along the Owens.” You know the town of Independence… Read more »

Carla Scheidlinger
Carla Scheidlinger
8 years ago

Greater Los Angeles has over 16 million people. Inyo County has about 25 thousand. It is not hard to do the math on the number of people who would actually use each project.

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

It’s also not hard to do the math on the number of acre feet of water LA gets from the Eastern Sierra to sustain itself and the enormous damage that LA has done over the years. Math also says it would not take $1 billion to make the Lower Owens… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

I suppose it’s not difficult to understand why our elected representative in Federal and State Government tend to keep quiet on these sorts of issues.

http://www.inyocounty.us/representatives.htm

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

How many state legislators and members of Congress represent districts in Los Angeles County? Coming from down there one frequently resents that rural areas have representation out of proportion to their small populations. If you look at places like Wyoming or Montana, they have smaller populations than some LA area… Read more »

a broken system
a broken system
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Don’t forget the self-serving BS our local elected officials pull. One guy from Mammoth (Lehman) is a realtor who thinks it’s okay for the town taxpayers who elected him to purchase his property then there’s the Mono county bozos (Johnston and Fesko) who insist on reducing the salaries of all… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

LA produces. The water you cry about is put to it’s most productive use in Los Angeles. It is not wasted. The residents of Los Angeles also use a fraction of the gallons per person per day that is used by Inyo and Mono County residents. The residents of the… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

Water conservation in a desert should be protocol. No gold stars there. I’m talking about ethical behavior. LA dried up the Owens Valley and took nearly all but tourism away to develop communities. Ethically speaking, if they are willing to seek $1 billion to fix up their own river, using… Read more »

Bob Loblaw
Bob Loblaw
8 years ago

Hate to pop your Producers vs. Wasters argument, but the water “Wasted” in Inyo and Mono Counties but when you water your lawn, the water isn’t all going away. Much of it seeps back into the aquifer, which around these parts, is where it came from. Also, I’d be interested… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  Bob Loblaw

i highly doubt any lawn water seeps back into the aquifer, let alone much of it.

and LADWP knows it or they’d let ranchers irrigate all they want.

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Yes, much of the water does go back into the aquifer. There is some evaporation and use by plants, but also return of water to the underground.
BK

Water Moccasin
Water Moccasin
8 years ago
Reply to  Bob Loblaw

Unless you graze livestock on them, lawns are stupid everywhere. What water does make it back to aquifer carries lawn chemicals and pollutes aquifer. Improper irrigation leads to salinization of soil fairly quickly. This is water that should be used properly growing food or left alone. Owens Valley land and… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Bob Loblaw

When you spray water to wet your lawn — or golf course — a lot of it just evaporates. Whatever seeps into the ground and makes it through all the caliche takes years to actually make it into the water table. Here in Mammoth, we have these heroic, well tended… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Tourism and real estate nearly require golf courses and greenery. Mammoth Community Water District has gone the distance to create a distribution system for recycled water for Sierra Star and Snowcreek. Not sure if it’s all completed but it’s close.
BK

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  Bob Loblaw

I drive to Bishop to golf. Less expensive and nicer weather. I get a kick ot of Benett’s mater of fact “yes, much of the water does go back into the aquifer”. I’ve done enough research to know better. But I would expect a comment like that from someone who… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

I’m no hydrologist, but let’s put it this way. More water returns to our aquifer here than the water that goes down the aqueduct. Would you buy that?
BK

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago

You’ve thrown those numbers around before and I’ve said before, they have to be wrong ( or more accurately, include non-comparable data). In Mono County, it’s extremely rare to have a lawn and most people don’t even have yards. How those residents could be using almost 4 times as much… Read more »

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago

http://www.sanfranciscobay.sierraclub.org/yodeler/html/2010/05/article5.htm this link provides some of DT’s numbers. It does show Mono County at 471 gal per capital but LA is one of the higher cities at 185 gal per capita. I have a new theory on Mono’s numbers. While LA has tourists, as does SF, a 10% influx of… Read more »

Russ Monroe
Russ Monroe
8 years ago

I can’t tell you how distressed I am that a whining irrelevant pseudonym is “tires” of hearing the truth form the Owens Valley, Oh, that’s right; I can’t because you have no case Deasert Tort. My home pumps 1,000 gallons a day from the aquifer, and 1,000 gallons of that… Read more »

Water Moccasin
Water Moccasin
8 years ago
Reply to  Russ Monroe

The water you pump alters the natural local ecosystem. Unlimited pumping would lower aquifer through evaporation alone even if water used locally. I have seen clouds leave the valley, so some of your water probably does too. Flushing human waste into leach lines with an aquifer inches below the surface… Read more »

Justitia
Justitia
8 years ago

You sidestep the underlying issues, Mr. Tortoise. First, you apply the concept of “waste” in anthropocentric terms. Au contraire, Owens Valley’s water is not wasted when it nurtures alkaline meadows and emerges in seeps and springs that support a myriad of life forms. Before 1905, the creeks were not a… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

What are you calling “greater Los Angeles? The county has a population of 9.962 million and the city has a population of 3.858 million. The residents of Orange, Ventura and San Bernardino counties are not part of “greater LA” and should not be so grouped. They are geographically distinct.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

Btw, Inyo County has a population of about 18,500 and Mono County a population of about 14,350.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

Considering how much LA needs to spend repairing sidewalks and streets I question their judgement spending money “restoring” the LA River. I also wonder if this “restored” river will be able to carry floods in the future. There are very good reasons the LA River was channelized like it is.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

LORP is a great idea. It would be tragic if the L.A. river project got funded while leaving the Lower Owens River uncared for.