Have you heard of the Zev Yaroslavsky L.A. River Greenway Trail? Neither had I until a friend who bikes and runs regularly enthusiastically mentioned there was a newly revitalized stretch of trail following the Los Angeles River over on the San Fernando Valley side lined with California flora across its entire length.
The greenway opened earlier this month, accompanied with a festive event attended by an assortment of public figures, including L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Congressman Brad Sherman, Colonel Kirk Gibbs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rudy Ortega Jr. representing the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Joseph T. Edmiston of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and Zev Yaroslavsky, the Former L.A. County Supervisor whose namesake now graces the half-mile, unpaved walking trail along the L.A. River.
Located in Studio City, the greenway won’t just benefit people, but also a myriad of wildlife that will surely benefit from this addition connecting previously sectioned off segments of the river trail into a “four mile continuous river walking trail loop, the longest in the San Fernando Valley”.
The Zev Yaroslavsky L.A. River Greenway Trail should also prove to be an insect paradise, its length selectively planted with over 3,000 native trees, shrubs and flowers – 40 different species, including two of my Cali favorites, California walnut trees and coast live oaks – each chosen for their locally evolved beauty and ability to naturally filter water that eventually finds its way into the L.A. River via natural and urban runoff. With urban sprawl continuing, setting aside land for the purpose of establishing micro-habitats like these will help native birds, insects, mammals, amphibians, and plants eke out an existence in a city that too often chooses landscaping with invasive ornamentals over the drought-hardy and climate adapted natives.
The Zev Yaroslavsky L.A. River Greenway Trail’s is admittedly short in length, but one should not consider its importance in isolation. By connecting two previously existing segments of L.A. River Greenway Trail into a continuous five-mile corridor along the river, Angelenos are one step closer to a (far) future when we can travel the entire river’s length, and we can all reconnect with the diverse wild inhabitants who’ve long called the L.A. River home.
As they say with a wink, “it’s not the length, but how you use it”.