Volunteers Work to Revitalize Los Angeles River

Voice of America –

The Los Angeles River spans 80 kilometers through Los Angeles and its suburbs, and for much of its route it’s encased in concrete. Like many urban waterways, the river is being restored to its natural state, and volunteers are helping for three weekends in April in an annual cleanup. The sprucing up coincides with Earth Day, April 22.

Much of the river was lined with concrete after devastating floods in 1938, and today the channel is filled with rainwater in winter but is often dry in summer. When barren, the riverbed has been featured in Hollywood movies such as the 1978 musical Grease, where it was the scene of a teenage auto drag race.

Increasingly, however, stretches of greenery have re-emerged amid the concrete, drawing birds, other wildlife and human visitors.

“Being exposed to this natural section where there’s wildlife, and quite a bit of trash as well … it’s really eye-opening and shocking for a lot of people,” said Stephen Mejia of the nonprofit group Friends of the Los Angeles River. He was sorting through trash collected by volunteers on a recent weekend.

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