One of the things I love about photographing the LA River is how often I go down there and get to see and photograph some thing, some event, some place for the first time. The LA River is undergoing a tremendous transformation and certainly some of the most dramatic changes, at least from a visual sense, has occurred because of the implementation of the Los Angeles River Recreation Zone project two years ago.
The Recreational Zone allows for boating and fishing along stretches of the Glendale Narrows and Sepulveda Basin between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays. And although I’ve seen many people partake in these activities in the river over the years, it was always on the sly and there was always a big risk of being caught. To now see people freely enjoying the river during the summer months is truly a joy.
Last year in particular I saw and photographed two events I can safely say I had never seen the likes of before on the river, and honestly if you had asked me even a few years ago, I would have told you the chances of them ever happening were slim to none.
The first annual Los Angeles River Boat race saw dozens of people launching themselves down some white water rapids along the Elysian Valley, some of them earnestly trying to win a prize, but many others just trying not to tip over and get a mouthful of LA River water in their mouth (and no they wouldn’t die).
A few weeks later I covered the first annual Off tha’ Hook fly fishing event. You may laugh, but fish were caught (it’s a catch and release event) and watching all the kids lining the banks of the river and tossing their lines in the water while their parents struggled to keep the lines from tangling was definitely the best part. There is actually a blog written by LA River angler Jim Burns that offers a lot of great and helpful info for those wishing to try their hand at it. - http://lariverflyfishing.com/
By the end of the day at of each of these events, so many people saw and experienced the river in a very different way than they ever had before, and that really was the point. Connecting communities and being a recreational centerpiece for the city is a long way from where things were just a few years ago. The Recreational Zone just opened again last week and that must mean that Summer is here and the water is waiting.
Just a note. The Frog Spot just opened for its second season. Located right along the river’s banks and run by FoLAR (Friends of the LA River), it offers refreshments and visitors may take a break for a poetry reading, take a yoga class, learn about the about the river’s history and ecology, enjoy a cup of coffee, or see live music on Saturday nights. https://folar.org/frogspot/