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More than 1,000 kayak down L.A. River in summer program

September 28, 2012 |  2:11 pm

LA River kayaks
The Los Angeles Conservation Corps celebrated the second season of its “Paddle the L.A. River” program this week with a kayaking trip led by its executive director and a local assemblyman.

More than 1,000 people made the 1.5-mile trip along the river this summer, a spokesman for the group said, and organizers are hoping to expand the program next year.

“For every person who sees the river and experiences it, we create something positive,” said Bruce Saito, executive director of the Conservation Corps.

Saito was joined for a ride Thursday by state Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), who vowed to help increase the length of the river open for kayaking.

“This is the most effective education for young people,” said De Leon, who paddled  down the river along with an aide. “We can talk about the theoretical and the abstract all we want. ...  But what works is getting people out here.”

The trip begins at Balboa Park in Van Nuys, near the 101 Freeway. Kayakers weave through a narrow, tree-lined stretch of river, guided by Conservation Corps employees. Mike Mena, a spokesman for the Conservation Corps, said tickets for the trips sold out within two days in July.

Saturday is the final day of kayaking for the season. The organization is hoping to increase the number of people it can take on the river at one time, and the frequency of the trips, next year, Mena added.

“We just want to accommodate the demand, because the demand seems to be there -- and be very high,” he said. “It’s a tougher ticket than Kanye West.”


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Photo: Bruce Saito, executive director of the L.A. Conservation Corps, leads a group of kayakers on the L.A. River on Thursday. Credit: Miguel Luna