In Los Angeles, paddling down a concrete river

Paddle beneath an overpass and for a moment the concrete flood-control channel that shackles the Los Angeles River for much of its length gives way. Willows bend in the breeze, blue dragonflies skim the surface and snowy egrets rest under the cottonwoods.

Getting here legally is the hard part.

Nearly four decades after capricious flood waters were tamed by concrete, the 51-mile river has largely existed as a no-man's land, a fenced-off, garbage-strewn scar running through the city that serves as occasional set for Hollywood car chases and frequent canvas for graffiti artists. Trespassers risk getting fined for damaging county property.

Kayakers, naturalists and recreation buffs want to change that.

Sean Hecht, who heads the Environmental Law Center at the University of California, Los Angeles said the goal is to allow residents to legally use the river.

"It's clear the LA River is a living river despite the fact that portions of it have been channelized," said Hecht who with his students have been advising groups about access issues.

To read the entire article by Noaki Schwartz click here