connect / 2015

Bring Back the River: Restoring the Los Angeles River Watershed

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Arroyo Seco Foundation

The Arroyo River Parks Program (ARPP) will build community support for re-imagining our watershed from a sterile concrete channel to a vibrant river ecosystem. The ARPP program will educate citizens about the river revitalization planned by the Army Core of Engineers on the Arroyo Seco Stream in Los Angeles County. To reach out to the community we want to establish a native plant nursery that will be the central location of our effort to reconnect the community to the LA River Watershed.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Mobilize for systems change
  • Implement and track policy
  • Provide native plants for restoration and education.

How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics?

  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Voting rates by race
  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open streets gatherings (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.

The Arroyo Seco Stream that begins in the San Gabriel Mountains is a major tributary of the Los Angeles River with its confluence at the 110 FWY and the 5 FWY. During the 1930’s the stream was lined with concrete to accelerate the rate of water to protect against flooding. In this action the Arroyo lost its ability to provide habitat for aquatic species and tremendous opportunities for people to appreciate the Arroyo. Our mission in making Los Angeles a better place to connect is to restore the connection between people and water. The Arroyo River Parks Program (ARPP) was started in 2008 and provides a plan to connect 30 open spaces parks around the Arroyo Seco. The connectivity will provide trails and recreation from Downtown Los Angeles to the Foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. This plan also calls for the removal of concrete and re-implementation of native vegetation in an effort to #BringBackTheRiver.

Fortunately our vision to restore the stream has been shared by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USCAE) and the County of Los Angeles Public Works. In 2011 the Arroyo Seco Watershed Ecosystem Restoration Study outlined several options for restoring the Arroyo Seco Stream. This upcoming spring 2016 the USACE will present several alternatives for the project. Our mission in applying for this grant funding is to garnish public input that will be presented to the USACE. We believe community input on this process will ultimately propel the project and will be a model for future river restoration throughout Southern California. To bolster support we would like to hold monthly workshops throughout the communities on this issue, in an effort to spur public dialogue and provide insight to the USACE. Furthermore making Los Angeles a better place to connect requires the support and contribution of all individuals, especially in restoring river vitality in light of an historic drought in Southern California. Therefore the need to bring about community awareness on water issues is not only imperative but urgent for our water sustainable vision of Los Angeles in 2050.

In our involvement with the community on this issue we have started a native plant nursery at the head waters of the Arroyo Seco Stream. The Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery seeks to bring in volunteers and community officials to re-connect with native plants. We want the nursery to be a central part of our efforts, and need this grant to purchase a permanent lease.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

The real test of the effectiveness of this campaign will be the extent to which we have influenced public support for the restoration of a living stream in the Arroyo Seco. We will evaluate our project by the amount of public support we can turn out for the USACE’s unveiling of project alternatives and amount of public comments provided.

In building public support we want to work with as many schools, government agencies, and other non-profit organizations as we can to educate them on the Arroyo Seco Stream restoration plan and our wider effort in the ARPP. We also want to ensure the future of our plant nursery, so that future restoration projects have locally climate adapted plants at the ready.

How many people attend the workshops? How many people provide comments on the USACE alternatives? How many governmental agencies and stakeholder organizations co-sponsor the workshops? How many volunteer hours at the nursery and in action projects?

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support