New funds flow into the Los Angeles River

A grant looks to focus on bringing back native vegetation.

Invasive plants along a half-mile stretch of the Los Angeles River in Studio City will be removed and replaced with native plants under a $150,000 grant announced Monday.

However, project purveyors want to bring in more than just plants. The stretch of land is currently home to a small population of the homeless community, and those involved in the project hope to bring in more local residents to utilize the space.

"We're not looking to 'clean it up' to get rid of the resident population, that's not the objective," said Melanie Winter, the director of the project.

State Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys, helped secure funding for the project which will go "specifically toward cleaning up, getting rid of a lot of the invasive plants that are growing on their own and are starting to harm the indigenous plants."

The Studio City River Greenway was first planned in 2004 and runs along the Los Angeles River. It is adjacent to the many local businesses that run along Ventura Boulevard. There is a paved pathway that runs along the south side of the river. The path is currently flanked by eucalyptus trees, and invasive plant species that have taken over the area.

City Councilman Paul Krekorian said the stretch from Whitsett Avenue to Coldwater Canyon Boulevard was in dire need of attention.

"It's a beautiful part of our neighborhood but it needs a little love now and then and it definitely can use the landscaping improvements and sprucing up, rec and parks working, maintaining it. This check will certainly play a big role in accomplishing all of those things," Krekorian said.

Everyone involved in the river beautification project said they wanted to make sure the small homeless population that lives on or near the greenway is not adversely affected.

"I had no interest in bringing public funds down here to clean up the river without dealing directly with the resident population and service providers," Winter said.

Winter also wants to make sure that the employees of the Department of Recreation and Parks in the area receive proper training when it comes to local vegetation.

"We need rec and parks staff at the city level and at the county level who understand how to identify and maintain the local native climate appropriate landscape, so we don't continue to waste drinking water on green," Winter said.

The funds are part of Proposition 68 which passed in June. The proposition put aside nearly $4 billion for state and local parks as well as water infrastructure projects.

Ultimately those who are working with the project want this stretch of the river to be emblematic of the entire river trail system. They hope the improvements will continue to spread.

"We have a lot of individual jewels along the length of the river and it's our job now to connect these jewels together into a beautiful necklace. A seamless path that goes all the to the west valley to downtown," Krekorian said.