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Rafting, fishing the Santa Ana River? Group works on river restoration

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The Santa Ana River has become overrun with vegetation and rocks, but now a local group is working to clear the waterway for kayaking and rafting.

There is a big push to reclaim the Santa Ana River. It's become overrun with vegetation and rocks, but now a local group is working to clear the waterway for kayaking and rafting.

The Santa Ana is the longest river in Southern California. Starting in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, running through Riverside and Santa Ana, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

But for as long as anyone can remember, the only purpose for this river has been flood control. Perhaps not for long.

People are currently not allowed in the river for safety reasons without special State Parks permission.

"This is a good example here of a restoration area. This was a concrete channel just two years ago, and now it's a restoration area, and these young trees are willows and cottonwoods, and this will be a gallery forest with 30-foot trees within 10 years," said David Myers, executive director of the Wildlands Conservancy.

Myers says hopefully someday you'll be able to raft from the Prado Dam all the way into Orange County.

Is it safe to go into the river now?

"That's a tough question," said Myers. "There are places where once you get in the gallery cottonwood forest, there's low branches overhanging the river and it will pull you right out of a raft, maybe even take an eye out or an ear off, so I would not suggest doing this at this time."

That's something you're already starting to see with the Los Angeles River.

People in the Inland Empire and Orange County have different opinions about this idea.

"It would be good to have a place for people to get their families together and do something fun," said Yorba Linda resident John Romero.

"I think it has its pluses and minuses, perhaps more people, more traffic, but it's Southern California everybody wants to go and have fun, so bring it on," said Corona resident Mark Lauritis.

Vegetation and rocks still need to be cleared. There are multiple cities and counties involved, so the restoration could take several years.


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