Non-profit envisions swimming, fishing, boating in Los Angeles River

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As rain from the recent El Nino-driven storms fill the Los Angeles River, a local non-profit envisions a future where the river will welcome a variety of activities. (KABC)

Thanks to El Nino this winter, the Los Angeles River actually looks like a real river instead of the usual image of a lot of concrete.

"When it rains, we go from millions of gallons to up to 10 billion gallons of water that's literally coming off our streets, into storm drains and into the river, and it was designed to do that," said Shelly Backlar with the non-profit organization, Friends of the L.A. River.

Backlar said the river was originally designed to take all rain water straight to the ocean, but due to the drought, the county is trying to collect more of it.

There are 26 collection sites in place with plans for more of them in the works.

"I heard on Tuesday that they collected 400 million gallons," Backlar said.

The Los Angeles Conservation Corps is leading at-risk youth in helping to clean up the river.

"Clearing out storm drains and preventing flooding as much as possible," said Kea Duggan with the L.A. Conservation Corps.

Duggan said many of her kids are surprised to find this natural habitat.

"One of the biggest responses is, 'Oh, we have a river in this city?'" Duggan said.

Due to deadly flooding in the 1930s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers added concrete, made famous in the iconic race scene from "Grease." The river is also seen in the film "Transformers."

The goal now is to return more to the original ecosystem.

In recent years, kayaking was added.

A bike path has been built on about 20 miles of the river so far, but the eventual goal is to have a path that connects all 51 miles of the river.

"In the most basic terms, we want a swim-able, fish-able, boat-able, bike-able Los Angeles River," Backlar said.

Related Topics:
environmentrainwaternatureLos Angeles
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