Glendale residents asked to step up, lobby for Los Angeles River restoration

Advocates for restoring natural areas along the Los Angeles River are calling on Glendale residents to lobby federal officials for inclusion of the city’s Verdugo Wash area in habitat rehabilitation plans.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday released a study that considers rehabilitation work plans of varying scope along a roughly 11-mile stretch of river between Griffith Park and downtown Los Angeles.

Only the most comprehensive plan — a $1.08-billion effort to remove concrete from the river and expand its riparian surroundings — would widen and add some 30 acres of wetlands to the channel of Verdugo Wash, located below the convergence of the of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways and east of Griffith Park.

According to the 505-page report, officials currently favor a $453-million plan that would leave out the Verdugo Wash and forgo creation of 10 acres of marsh woodland at Los Angeles State Historic Park in downtown L.A., commonly referred to as the Cornfield.

“The difference in scope is pretty large, and Glendale has a big stake in this,” said Tim Brick, managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation in Pasadena.

Brick and other activists are planning a Sept. 28 L.A. River Rally at L.A. State Historic Park to advocate for the $1-billion plan.

The Army Corps of Engineers is accepting written public comment about its river restoration plans from Friday to Nov. 5, according to its website.

Officials handling the project could not be reached for comment.

Brick, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said the agency is expected to select a plan following the comment period and then identify federal funding to begin work.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ study considers five options that also include doing no work, a limited $375-million effort and a $804-million plan.

The $453-million proposal includes conversion of a half-mile of concrete channel in Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco to natural streambeds and the installation of two large freshwater marshes — one at the Taylor rail yard along San Fernando Road in Los Angeles and another at the Piggyback rail yard south of the Brewery Arts Complex.

Glendale City Councilwoman Laura Friedman, a longtime advocate for inclusion of Verdugo Wash in L.A. River restoration efforts, said residents “need to be more active” on the issue.

“This means more open space for the people of Glendale — connecting us to the rest of a natural ecosystem and something I know a lot of residents want,” she said.


Follow Joe Piasecki on Twitter: @JoePiasecki.


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