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The River
Clean and Green
  Fact Sheet

The San Gabriel River Campaign:
Clean and Green from the Mountains to the Sea

Jennifer Robinson, Conservation Program Coordinator, (213) 387-4287 ext. 204
Jeff Yann, San Gabriel River Campaign Chair, (626) 968-4572

Bringing a River Back to Life
The Sierra Club has a vision for the greater Los Angeles areaĖto bring a degraded urban river back to lifeĖand the transformation has already begun. The San Gabriel River, a source of drinking water for over a million people, runs for 38 miles through urban areas from Azusa to Seal Beach. Almost a quarter of the riverís reach is encased in concrete: lower reaches of the river were permanently altered in 1938 as a flood control project. But parts of the San Gabriel are still wild and show what the San Gabriel Valley looked like as the old timers remember it.

The vision of the San Gabriel River Campaign is to create a greenbelt of public park space along the entire length of the river to serve the residents of the park-starved County of Los Angeles. Existing and new bike, walking and equestrian trails can be connected into a continuous network for commuting and recreation. Parks can be created next to a clean water system for families to enjoy as they relax or exercise. Other campaign goals include restoring the riverís natural functioning and providing habitat for endangered and other species; providing a model for water conservation in other watersheds; and promoting the cultural heritage and historic significance of the San Gabriel River, the Rio Hondo and their tributaries.

History of the Campaign
The campaign began in 1999 with the introduction of state legislation (SB 216) by then- Senator Hilda L. Solis. The purpose of the bill was to create the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy [RMC] for the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers, including the Rio Hondo, and the San Gabriel Mountains. The Sierra Club supported the proposed legislation and implemented projects pertaining to conservation issues in the San Gabriel River. The bill passed and the RMC was created as a state conservancy to promote water quality, water conservation, low- impact recreation, and public education in the upper San Gabriel watershed.

During 2003, the Sierra Club was instrumental in securing $7 million in funding for campaign projects, including $4.3 million in state funds for the acquisition of the Woodland Farms Duck Farm by the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, the first piece of the riverís greenbelt. In the same year, the Upper San Gabriel Municipal Water District committed $750,000 to be used for planning and designing the San Gabriel River Discovery Center at Whittier Narrows. The Sierra Club has been an integral proponent of this project since it began in 2000.

The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter created Amigos de Los Rios in 2003. The not-for-profit Amigos works hand in hand with the San Gabriel River Campaign to facilitate an outreach with the many Latino communities that live next to the San Gabriel River. The Sierra Club has solicited input from the Latino communities regarding future plans concerning the San Gabriel River. After just one year, Amigos has turned into a full-service community outreach and renewal organization that offers open-space planning, design and architecture, training for at-risk youth, civic participation/outreach, native plants landscaping, and outdoor education. Amigos de Los Rios recently obtained $750,000 in contracts for community outreach and riverbank parks.

The Sierra Club is honored that three out of the five demonstration projects in the San Gabriel River Master Plan were initiated by Sierra Club volunteers. Other restoration and improvement projects include gravel quarry reclamation, Rio Hondo master planning, and native plant revegetation on the soft banks of the tributary San Jose Creek to model how lost habitat can be brought back to the river system.

Campaign Partners and Supporters

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This page updated 7/29/06

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