I’ve been covering the efforts to revive the concrete-lined Los Angeles River on this site almost since I started writing Modern Hiker. Mayor Villaraigosa has been an ardent supporter of greening our namesake waterway, which is probably better known as an open sewer or drainage channel than an actual waterway. This week, the L.A. River got a huge boost when the Environmental Protection Agency declared the entire river a “traditional navigable waterway.”

The River, from the forbidden side

This overturns a 2007 ruling by the Army Corps of Engineers, who stated only a few miles were navigable. Some activists decided to challenge that finding, and navigated the entire river on kayaks in 2008. Back then, many sneered at their efforts, but now, based on the EPA’s ruling, the entire 51 mile river is eligible for protection and federal funding under the Clean Water Act.

This is the beginning of a long process that will involve massive river rehabilitation, increased protection and reduced pollution. Eventually, we’ll see the River returned to a more natural state, like it is along parts of the L.A. River Greenway Trail. Maybe, in time, we’ll even have a city-wide stretch of greenways, turning the L.A. River from a butt of jokes to a bonafide world-class park.

This is fantastic news for everyone living in L.A. Everyone involved in the decision should be proud.

Los Angeles River Bridge

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