A pedestrian bridge spans the stream bed, with the Metro Goldline Bridge in the background. All photos by Katherine Montgomery

A pedestrian bridge spans the stream bed, with the Metro Goldline Bridge in the background. All photos by Katherine Montgomery

While running errands and avoiding listening to election news on the radio this past weekend, I decided to stop at a small parcel of land I’ve long admired. I usually only see this open space while riding the Gold Line train that passes above it, or while driving along Avenue 18 between Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights.

Nestled between industrial buildings, surrounded by transit (Metro, freight trains, and highways) in a section some might call a no-man’s-land, I entered a surprisingly lush space filled with bird song, the rustling of willows, and the calming sound of water.

Path meandering through a landscape of native and California-friendly plants.

A path meandering through a landscape of native and California-friendly plants.

A view with the historic Lincoln Heights jail visible in the background.

A view with the historic Lincoln Heights jail visible in the background.

Completed in 2013 by the Bureau of Sanitation, the Ed Reyes Greenway is a one-acre park.  The in-between open space cleans stormwater runoff from the adjacent industrial area in an underground biofiltration system before it moves through the site, into the Los Angeles River, and eventually out to the ocean. The park also serves as a pocket habitat with dense plant material – some of which is native – but all serving a purpose.  Grasses and willows absorb pollutants in the water as it percolates into the soil.  Native sycamore trees and mallows provide habitat for birds, lizards, possums, and raccoons. In whole, Ed Reyes Greenway is a much-needed urban habitat for LA’s underserved wildlife.

A waterfall at the entrance of the park greets visitors.

A waterfall at the entrance of the park greets visitors.

As Los Angeles grapples with issues of drought, environmental responsibility, and increasing density, it is parks like these that serve as an example of how we should design a wilder Los Angeles.  Integrating nature and stormwater management into the urban context is vital to creating a healthy ecosystem.

If you have not voted yet, please be sure to vote in favor of Measure A, which provides funding for programs in parks, water conservation efforts, and protection of natural areas.

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