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Kayakers to paddle length of L.A. River this weekend

July 25, 2008 | 12:36 pm

And_a_river_runs_through_it Is the L.A. River actually a river? It used to be, before it was encased in concrete from Canoga Park to its terminus in Long Beach and turned into a giant storm drain. Then came the decision last spring by the Army Corps of Engineers that, because the waterway is no longer navigable, it's not a river at all.

Blogger George Wolfe of the tongue-in-cheek LaLa Times promptly took to the water in protest. (That's Wolfe in the photo. Hi George!) He's at it again today, leading a dozen kayakers on a three-day trip down the 51-mile length of the L.A. River, paddling from Canoga Park to Long Beach to prove that the feds are wrong. Here's the story from LAist:

This afternoon in Canoga Park, 12 kayakers are going to begin a 51-mile, three-day journey down the LA River to Long Beach. They have no permit to enter the river, but that's part of the point. The Army Corps of Engineers caused a stir in the community last month when they declared that the Los Angeles River was not, in fact, a river because it was not navigable, save for two spots.

Many people, including politicians, community members, environmentalists and George Wolfe, Editor of the LaLa Times and the leader of today's expedition, said this is detrimental to the city. "We’re here to defend the right of the people of Los Angeles to use their own river. The city was founded where it is precisely because of the river," Wolfe explains noting that this weekend's expedition takes the stance that "public trust law in California contains certain inalienable rights of access to the waters of the U.S., and that these time-honored, common sense laws supersede all bureaucratic misgivings, justifications and obfuscations regarding the denial of our request."

Supporters are welcome to come watch the 3:00 p.m. launch at headwaters in Canoga Park. Details and directions are on LAist. For more about river advocacy, visit Friends of the LA River.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times