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Want to Legally Kayak in the L.A. River? Speak Up!

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George Wolfe canoes over a small rapid in the L.A. River | Photo by Tom Andrews, who documented a three day trip down the 51-mile waterway

As seen here yesterday, the first kayaking trip on the L.A. River since it was deemed "navigable" by the federal government was caught on video. Exciting as that is, the legality of holding such an urban adventure is still in a gray area.

Currently, the Army Corp of Engineers and L.A. County's Department of Public Works will not approve or deny permits seeking access to the river because they are awaiting clarification on the issue. When all is said and done -- and who knows when that will be -- parts of the river will be accessible for recreation while others parts may be closed off for habitat regrowth and other environmental reasons (but that's just our guess).

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For river activist George Wolfe, who has led the river expeditions, a recreational river will be up to the people of Los Angeles and surrounding cities.

"As far as I can tell, as Joe Boater, the issue of 'access' must now be decided 'on the local level,' Wolfe explained in an e-mail. "It's more about L.A. County (especially the Dept. of Public Works) and the Army Corps of Engineers who both mostly restrict recreation on the river vs. the history of 'public trust' laws, including the California state constitution (article 10 section 4), which broadly support the public's time-honored right to access their waterways."

"So... where does that put us?" he continued. "At a frustrating point, but also a possible breakthrough point. The County and the Corps really need to hear that more people than just a few crazy boaters care about the future of the river. Actually, put the question to our five L.A. County Supervisors (who've been surprisingly silent on the issue) -- they're the ones with the clout to develop (with public input) & implement a fair policy to get us out of this river purgatory. If the County & Corps are sufficiently convinced by the public that there's a constituency out there that won't take no for an answer, then they'll probably do something."

So there you go Los Angeles, if you want it, making that desire known might make it a reality. And if you don't believe it's possible to kayak or canoe the river, it is. Click here, here and here for proof.

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