Rep. Adam Schiff released this op-ed Thursday. It originally appeared on the Los Feliz Ledger:
In the past, many viewed the Los Angeles River as little more than a concrete channel winding its way through our backyards, often dry and ignored. But we have now come to recognize that the river’s 32-mile journey through the heart of Los Angeles provides us with an excellent opportunity to unite our communities around a new and exciting waterway. In fact, the river is an asset with the power to connect hundreds of thousands of Angelinos.
In 2007, the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan breathed new life into the L.A. River. Under the plan, a renewed River would be a continuous, functioning ecosystem that supports native fish, bird and mammal populations, treats storm water runoff and establishes an interconnected network of parks and trails for community residents to enjoy. A renewed river would also create much-needed jobs through the work associated with the project, provide for a more sustainable L.A., and serve as a cultural destination point.
In April 2010, the Dept. of Interior established the “America’s Great Outdoors” program, to reconnect Americans with nature by leveraging the support of the federal government and working with the private sector, nonprofit organizations, communities and states. The goal of the program is to preserve open space, wildlife, and historic and cultural resources, and to enhance neighborhood parks through public-private partnerships and locally supported conservation strategies.
The L.A. River is a perfect choice for this innovative initiative. I was proud to work with Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard in requesting that the Interior Department designate the L.A. River as a part of this program, and was delighted when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar came to our community to inaugurate the L.A. River into the program.
My colleague and I are already working hard on the next step—a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study—and have succeeded in obtaining some preliminary funding to begin the effort. Once concluded, Congress must approve the project recommendation before it can proceed to the construction phase.
With your input and support, I will work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to implement these recommendations and to secure the necessary funds to make this exciting vision a reality.
A renewed and reborn River will be a vital component of our community. While the final results will take some time, our planning and persistence will pay off, and communities and residents once divided by the concrete channel will be united by a reborn L.A. river—a true urban waterway.
Representative Adam Schiff serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.