A friend was ticketed last week while fishing in the River. This is the first time this has ever happened. Although fishermen have previously been told by Rangers (not cops) that they are not allowed to “loiter” in the L.A. River bed, no one has been given a ticket before.
Fishing is, by definition, not loitering. Yet a fisherman got a ticket.
Fishing by persons with fishing licenses is not illegal. Yet a fisherman got a ticket.
Further, there is word on the street—or should I say the river?—that Councilman Eric Garcetti is ordering ‘No Trespassing’ signs to be installed along the tops of the concrete river banks in the Atwater area that were constructed in 1948 to contain the River. (Read the policy implementation email from Garcetti’s office here.) As we have already seen, rangers and police are starting to ticket “trespassers” and “loiterers” like catch-and-release fly fishermen.
Today, as Nature has re-asserted herself within the concrete confines, as birds fly above, as 15-pound carp swim below, as ducks bob, as insects buzz, as trees, reeds, flowers and yes tomatoes grow in the river bed, as humans return to congregating next to the river, as they always have, and always will… now, with all of this greening happening, as a direct result of the visionary, heroic advocacy of people like Lewis MacAdams and the Friends of the River, now–now!?!–is the time that Councilman Eric Garcetti, who supposedly is committed to greening the river is saying Angelenos must not be allowed near the River?
Eric doesn’t get it.
It’s a RIVER.
IT’S GREEN ALREADY.
Sitting by the river should not be a crime.
Fishing in the river should not be a crime.
Feeding ducks in the river should not be a crime.
Walking by the river should not be a crime.
And most of all, pulling human-generated trash (especially ocean-bound plastic bags and styrofoam containers) out of the river (as I have done many times) should not be a crime.
Councilman Eric Garcetti should ENCOURAGE rather than prohibit the public’s use of the L.A. River. This River’s ongoing, dynamic, unpredictable rebirth should be CELEBRATED rather than HIDDEN and FENCED OFF.
The more people that are using the River, the safer it will be for everyone.
As more people use the River, there will be more support for the revitalization of the River itself—and more generally, for Nature, for wildness and for the “urban greening” programs we so desperately need at the local, bioregional and global levels.
NATURE is its own best ally. Let it be beheld. Let everyone participate in it.
COUNCILMAN GARCETTI, DON’T FENCE OFF THE RIVER.