Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
Efforts to develop 39 acres of wetlands along the Los Angeles River, from DeForest Park to Del Amo Boulevard, commenced Tuesday morning as local leaders ceremoniously broke ground in front of the DeForest Nature Trail.
“Today truly is a great day for Long Beach, particularly this area of the city,” Councilmember Al Austin said.
This is the largest expansion of open space in Long Beach since construction at Cesar Chavez Park—and one of the largest park projects in the city’s history, according to Councilmember Rex Richardson.
“Visioning for this began a long time ago, in 2001,” Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson said. “We’re really proud of this.”
The 18-month long restoration project will include walking, biking, and equestrian trails and a bicycle staging area beneath the Long Beach Boulevard overpass to connect the park to the Los Angeles River Bikeway, according to city officials.
“I used to play racquetball at this park and I used to run at this park and I gotta tell you I'm looking forward to returning in ‘17 to do the same once again,” said State Sen. Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, who represents a portion of Long Beach.
Non-native trees will be removed and historical floodplain habitats will be re-created. The nearly three miles of wetlands will be created using low-flow runoff from storm drains, which is expected to improve the cleanliness of discharged water into the river.
Officials called the project a significant step in completing the 51-mile Los Angeles River Greenway, which passes through 13 cities with 10 million people.
“It’s only 39 acres, but 39 acres of urban green space is significant and is worthy of celebration,” Austin told guests.
State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, promised more amenities for the area he represents.
“When we look at the lower Los Angeles River we know that we are far behind,” Lara said. “When you look at the upper Los Angeles River, people are kayaking; they’re fishing. Our river deserves those same resources.”
Lara—who leaves to Paris on Thursday as part of a delegation speaking on climate change during the United Nation’s 21st Conference of Parties—said this project will also help curtail pollutants unique to people living near the Long Beach (710) Freeway.
“Asthma clusters, cancer clusters—those are realities for communities that live along the 710 Freeway,” Lara said.
State Sens. Isadore Hall III and Ricardo Lara present an award to the city's Park, Recreation and Marine Department.
The project would also help address obesity and diabetes cases—a big issue in these low socioeconomic communities along the river, Hall III said.
“Giving access to our children and schools, to be able to come and run and to workout would not only encourage them to workout even more, but it would also save a life,” Hall III added.
Funding for the $8.3 million project has come from the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, Los Angeles County Regional Parks and Open Space District, California Natural Resources Agency River Parkways, and the state’s Coastal Conservancy.
Efforts to develop 39 acres of wetlands along the L.A. River, from DeForest Park to Del Amo Boulevard, commenced this morning as local leaders ceremoniously broke ground in front of the DeForest Nature Trail.Posted by Long Beach Post on Tuesday, December 1, 2015