Many Angelenos assume the Los Angeles River is a man-made aqueduct. A concrete ravine, littered with more garbage than water but definitely not a natural river.
Most of the river was paved over with concrete in the 1930’s as it was converted into a flood control channel after severe floods continually threatened L.A.’s growing population.
The Environmental Protection Agency has recently designated the entire river to be a “traditional navigable waterway”.
Environmentalist George Wolfe is founder of L.A. River Expeditions , an organization that upon learning of the EPA's designation, quickly offered guided canoe and kayak trips down stretches of the river.
Wolfe isn’t waiting to get clearance for the expeditions, as it’s not clear what the policy is now that the river is “navigable."
According to the L.A. Times:
Normally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, which have operated the river for decades as a flood-control channel, would not allow such a voyage because of safety and water-quality concerns. In this case, however, they would neither approve nor deny a boating permit pending clarification of what is allowable in the river under the new EPA designation.
The excursions are part of Wolfe’s overall mission of educating Angelenos about the river’s environmental importance as well as making the river clean, safe, and sustainable.