Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Friends of the Los Angeles River records, 1987-2013
2215  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (113.38 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Title: Friends of the Los Angeles River records
    Collection number: 2215
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 68.0 linear ft. (145 boxes, 1 record carton, 2 shoeboxes, 8 flat boxes, 1 map folder)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1983-2009
    Date (inclusive): 1930-2014
    Abstract: The Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) is a non-profit, urban environmental organization, founded in 1986 and focused on saving, restoring, and reviving the Los Angeles River. FoLAR--with a board of directors, a technical advisory board, and a program that encompasses education, community organization, and political action--has advocated for an integrated 52-mile greenway and has stressed the need to address the 30 different governmental agencies that has each had some jurisdiction over the river. FoLAR records include documentation of activities that focus on protecting and restoring the natural and historic heritage of the Los Angeles River and its riparian habitat through inclusive planning, education, and wise stewardship. Included in the collection are correspondence, administrative records, research materials, photographs, maps, files relating to the various activities of the organization, including publications, advocacy and fundraising events, political and legal action, and publicity.
    Language of Materials: Materials are primarily in English. Some printed materials are in Chinese, German, and Spanish.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Creator: Friends of the Los Angeles River.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the reference desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Copyright to portions of this collection has been assigned to the UCLA Library Special Collections. The library can grant permission to publish for materials to which it holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or quote must be submitted in writing to the UCLA Library Special Collections Librarian Special Collections. Credit shall be given as follows: © The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the UCLA Library Special Collections.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    RESTRICTED ACCESS: Use of audio and moving image material requires production of listening and viewing copies.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Friends of the Los Angeles River records (Collection 2215). Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 7541647 

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Lewis MacAdams, 2013.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Diane Ward in 2014 in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Jasmine Jones. Processing of this collection was generously supported by Metabolic Studio.

    Biography/History

    The Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) is a non-profit, urban environmental organization, founded in 1986, that is focused on saving, restoring, and reviving the Los Angeles River. The Los Angeles River is 52 miles long, extending from Canoga Park in the northwest section of the San Fernando Valley to San Pedro Bay, the site of the Port of Long Beach and the adjoining Port of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles River drains most of the Santa Susanna, Santa Monica, and San Gabriel Mountains. FoLAR--with a board of directors, a technical advisory board, and a program that encompasses education, community organization, and political action--has advocated for an integrated 52-mile greenway and has stressed the need to address the 30 different governmental agencies that has each had some jurisdiction over the river.
    FoLAR founded in 1986 by Lewis MacAdams, Pat Patterson, Roger Wong. Early board members include:
    • Lewis MacAdams, founder and long-time president of FoLAR, as well as poet, performance artist, author, screenwriter, documentary filmmaker, and journalist. MacAdams has been an activist since the 1960s, when he lived in Bolinas, California, and was the youngest member of the Bolinas water board district.
    • Tom Janeway, attorney
    • Denis Schure, a designer, whitewater canoeing expert, and Los Angeles River safety instructor
    • Jim Danza, environmentalist and expert in water resources and water quality, who headed FoLAR’s Technical Advisory Board. This board is comprised of engineers, biologists, and planners, and has the mission of investigating the means of revitalizing the Los Angeles River system as a natural resource through science and education
    • Sara Rose, who was, at the time, working in the film industry
    • Martin Schlageter, environmentalist and conservationist
    The City of Los Angeles was founded along the Los Angeles River in 1777. Until the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, the river was the primary source of water for the City of Los Angeles. Catastrophic floods of 1934 and 1938 precipitated the concrete channelization of the Los Angeles River by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, a major infrastructural project that spanned over 20 years and transformed the River into a single-purpose storm water drainage and flood-control channel. At one point, there were 17,000 workers paving the river by hand, constituting an important jobs creation program during the waning years of the Great Depression.
    The whole drainage area of the Los Angeles Basin and its surrounding mountains had been reengineered to serve the urban growth of Los Angeles. As a result of the construction of the aqueducts--providing a reliable water source for Los Angeles, the channelization of the river, and the elimination and taming of its many small tributaries--the process of urbanization accelerated. This efficient, single-purposed system for carrying away storm water runoff meant that ground water was no longer being replenished. Even during times of prolonged drought, Los Angeles can experience tremendous amounts of rainfall over short periods of time without being able to capture any of the water for its own future use. Following its successful channelization and due to the efficiency of its function as a flood-control system, the Los Angeles River received toxins and trash that was flushed into the river from adjoining neighborhoods.
    The Los Angeles River with its sole function as a flood control channel to whisk storm water runoff to San Pedro Bay as quickly and efficiently as possible, became a worldwide symbol of the negative impacts that urbanization has on the natural environment. With the fewest acres of parks per capita in the United States, Los Angeles and its river was the poster child for failed environmental stewardship. The river was known for its graffiti, its homeless encampments, and as the site of several Hollywood movies. A perceptual shift began in 1985 when the newly constructed Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant began to discharge water from its Van Nuys site in the San Fernando Valley. The plant was designed to treat 40 million gallons of wastewater per day, the Los Angeles River began to take on the appearance of a year-round river with flourishing populations of birds, fish, and crayfish.
    Floods in 1992 made clear that the river’s ability to function as a flood-control system would need to be enhanced and expanded as the city grew. FoLAR, along with Heal the Bay and TreePeople, filed a lawsuit in 1995 to halt the execution of a proposal by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and Army Corps of Engineers to raise the walls along the river. The lawsuit was unsuccessful but was an opportunity to articulate an alternative strategy of watershed management. FoLAR advocated for a watershed approach to flood protection, allowing more space for the river to flood during heavy storms. This approach would correct the inadequate size of the channel, constructed in 1938 and failing to accurately estimate the huge growth in the urban area of Los Angeles. FoLAR’s watershed approach included acquiring abandoned waterfront factories and rail yards along the river. This involved working with organizations, such as The Trust for Public Land, the California State Coastal Conservancy, and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, to identify and work toward the acquisition of appropriate parcels along the entire length of the river.
    Friends of the Los Angeles River has been involved in several projects and studies alongside other groups and individuals, including:
    • The Chinatown Yards Alliance, which was a coalition of environmental, community, and civil rights groups, comprised of FoLAR, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Society of Los Angeles, Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, and the Northeast Renaissance Corporation, with the goal to turn the Chinatown Yards/Cornfield into a public park. Arthur Golding, University of Southern California Professor of Architecture & Planning, joined FoLAR with designs to turn the Cornfield into a public park with a school and housing;
    • A coalition for a state park at Taylor Yard, for which Golding had a hand in developing a park development plan similar to the Chinatown Yards/Cornfield project;
    • The Los Angeles River Master Plan Study, conducted by the Los Angeles Country Department of Public Works;
    • Water Quality and Beneficial Use Study of the River, an engineering feasibility study of turning the closed railroad yard into a multi-purpose flood-retention basin and park;
    • Multiple Use and Flood Control study at Taylor Railroad Yard, in collaboration with the California Department of Water Resources and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works;
    • An investigation into alternative urban flood control technologies and systems;
    • The United States Army Corps of Engineers Water Supply and Conservation Reconnaissance Study;
    • The City of Los Angeles River Task Force demonstration project in the San Fernando Valley;
    • And the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History’s biological inventory of the river.
    FoLAR’s educational activities have included River Watch, a volunteer water-quality-monitoring program to measure and control water pollution. Its advocacy activities have included city and countywide task forces for river restoration. FoLAR was instrumental in the creation of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel River Watershed Council, now known as the Council for Watershed Health. Political supporters have included Los Angeles mayors Tom Bradley and Antonio Villaraigosa; state senators Art Torres, Tom Hayden, and David Roberti; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Gloria Molina; and Los Angeles City Councilmembers Ed Reyes, Eric Garcetti, and Tom LaBonge.
    Friends of the Los Angeles River continues to pursue its founding mission of advocacy for the Los Angeles River through education, collaboration and imagination. Among its stated goals are the restoration of the river’s natural habitat through the application of flood-protection technologies that include reforesting and re-vegetating the river’s watershed to control seasonal flooding and debris flow; encouraging the use of reclaimed water for irrigation and recharge of aquifers in order to promote sustainable development; the creation of bikeways, pedestrian paths, and horse trails on the riverbanks; promoting recreational use of the river, such as canoeing and kayaking; placing the Los Angeles River bridge on the National Historic Registry; and, in collaboration with other groups and agencies, activities such as community-based river clean-ups, graffiti removal, educational programs, and water monitoring.

    Scope and Content

    Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) records consist of the records of the non-profit organization. Included in the collection are correspondence, administrative records, research materials, photographs, maps, files relating to the various activities of the organization, including publications, advocacy and fundraising events, political and legal action, and publicity.

    Organization and Arrangement

    This collection has been arranged in four series:
    • Series 1: Administrative Records, 1987-2012
    • Series 2: Research Materials, 1941-2014
    • Series 3: Legal Records, 1990-2011
    • Series 4: Activity Files, circa 1930-2013

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Friends of the Los Angeles River--Archives.
    Los Angeles River (Calif.)