AMBI: River sounds...
Most people don’t even know
AMBI: Kids playing in the park on the jungle gym, LA birds chirping, soccer, baseballs being hit.
Besides the River, the Park offers soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts, a
playground, picnic areas, and hiking trails. Sean Woods is Superintendent for
WOODS: The communities that surround Rio de
LUNDSTEN: But Woods says turning what was once a trainyard into a park wasn’t easy. It took many years, lots of volunteers, and major cooperation.
WOODS: So the idea for this area initially was a huge industrial park and what happened was the local community rose up against it. A coalition began to form.
LUNDSTEN: He says over *thirty-six organizations, including social groups, the Natural Resource Defense Council, the California State Parks Foundation, and people from the community mobilized.
WOODS: Through a lawsuit they beat back big development and stopped the industrial park.
Woods says after that victory the next challenge was figuring out how to ensure
each group got what they wanted in the space. Melanie Winter, director of the
LA River Project, wanted to restore the river. She says that’s because
When the Portola Expedition came up here in the 1700s…and looked around and
they just – in today’s parlance, their minds were blown.... The native
wildflowers and native grasses in the hills were very colorful and verdant and
green and the river they described as a wide, flowing river. They really did
say this was the most beautiful place they had seen to date from their journey
LUNDSTEN: Winter says it was also important to protect the wildlife. There are about *200 species of birds that use the LA River as part of the Pacific flyway – ducks, cormorinths, night herons, red-legged stilts, and even snowy egrets.
WINTER: So the impetus to want to bring that back and to uncover that and to restore that resonates on so many levels – ecologically-speaking, historically-speaking, culturally-speaking, a sense of pride, a sense of place.
LUNDSTEN: Raul Macias, local resident and head of Anahuak Youth Sport Association – a soccer club for at-risk kids – was on-board with the plan to restore the natural landscape, but he *also wanted to make sure the local community got what they wanted. Macias says there were some long hours and lengthy discussions, but by working together the park has something for everyone.
MACIAS: Never before did the environmental people think that active recreation it could be born...and finally they say half and half – 20 acres active, 20 acres passive.
LUNDSTEN: Melanie Winter agrees.
WINTER: This park’s importance to the community – there are so many levels to that. The history behind the community coming together to make this park happen was truly extraordinary and it energized the community – it reached across neighborhoods that didn’t often get along really well and provided an issue that they could all agree on and work together towards.
LUNDSTEN: Raul Macias has seen a transformation in his neighbors.
MACIAS: I am so proud, you know, this park changed the mentality of a lot of people because they have seen that anything is possible and everybody counts.
LUNDSTEN: Superintendent Sean Woods says all the hard work paid off.
It’s incredible. Rio de
Woods says so far 40 acres of
The long-term vision is to create a river that we can be proud of – something
like the Seine or the
LUNDSTEN: Woods says a river like that would show
visitors a different side of LA – the one that captivated Portola hundreds of
years ago. You can find out more about visiting
OUTRO: If you want to find out more
about *supporting all of