Text of open letter from Dave Culver, posted here with his permission….
Mr. Garcetti, Mr. O’Farrell, Mr. Torres, representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California Department of Fish and Game, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, et al:
FISHING IN THE LOS ANGELES RIVER
While I don’t officially represent the Southern Sierra Fly Fishing Club, the Long Beach Casting Club, the Pasadena Casting Club or any other organization whose members sometimes fly fish in the Los Angeles River, I am a Los Angeles County resident and a member of the Board of Directors for the Pasadena Casting Club. Accordingly I have an interest in the issue of fishing access to the Los Angeles River.
Safety of Consuming Fish from the Los Angeles River
I am personally acquainted with many people who fish the portion of the Los Angeles River that is adjacent to Atwater Village. I have heard of nobody consuming the fish. Whether the fish are safe to eat is not an issue; whether catch-and-release fishing will be permitted is the sole issue of concern.
California Department of Fish and Game Declaration of a Fishery
Whether DFG must first “declare” or “designate” a body of water as a fishery is unclear. Presuming DFG does indeed have the jurisdiction to make such a declaration, the question is whether such a designation is currently being sought or whether DFG is being urged to withhold such a designation by representatives of the City or County of Los Angeles.
Prohibition Against Loitering in the River Bed
Catch-and-release fishing should not be regarded as loitering under the spirit and intent of LAMC Sec. 41.22. Catch-and-release fly fishermen are neither vagrants nor vandals. To the contrary, we are especially saftey- and environmentally-conscious people and our presence in the river does not pose any risk to damage of the surrounding infrastructure and is indeed likely to improve the environmental quality of the area because we tend to pick up trash left by others. Our presence also provides eyes and ears for any activity that might be destructive.
Many fishermen have written polite letters to the elected representatives of the City of Los Angeles asking that the Park Rangers allow fly fishermen to pursue harmless recreation in the riverbed. The replies have not directly addressed the initial question of why fishing should be forbidden or which government code expressly forbids fishing. Therefore, can someone in a position of responsibility offer an explanation why it is believed catch-and-release fishing poses a nuisance or risk and should therefore be banned from the river bed under LAMC Sec. 41.22?
People who enter the river bed to feed the ducks, photograph the natural flora and fauna, jog and pursue other legitimate and harmless recreation likewise should not be considered loiterers under LAMC Sec. 41.22. I believe it is reasonable to assert that the presence of recreational users should be a welcomed indication that the L.A. River is being rehabilitated and is being recognized and appreciated for the distinct natural environment it offers within the confines of vast urban development. Instead of banning recreational users from the river it seems more appropriate to regard the Atwater Village portion of the L.A. River as an extension of Griffith Park or to even designate it as a new and distict park expressly for streambed recreation. Otherwise, it would be helpful if someone would explain the logic of excluding legitimate recreational users, thereby effectively reserving the river bed for the exclusive use of vagrants and vandals who are certain to ignore any new signage containing the text of LAMC Sec. 41.22.
If the responsible parties move forward with posting the text of LAMC Sec. 41.22, then please do so for the express purpose of preventing vandalism and vagrancy, but please make accommodations for legitimate recreational use. I respectfully urge you to to add the following language which will provide the Park Rangers the ability to exercise discernment when issuing citations for trespassing while simultaneously protecting the City’s interests and providing a new recreational venue for your constituents:
Fishing during daylight hours is permitted with a valid California fishing license.
Consumption of fish caught in this vicinity is not advisable.
Entering river bed during periods of high water runoff is prohibited.
Enter the river bed at your own risk.
The City and County of Los Angeles assume no responsibility for your safety.
Thank you for your consideration.
La Canada Flintridge