State bill could provide $98M in funding for the LA River

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The California State Legislature approved a budget bill Monday that, if approved by Governor Jerry Brown, would provide $98 million in funding for projects along the LA River.

The money will be divvied up evenly and distributed to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. The two state-run organizations oversee wildlife protection, education, and recreation along the upper and lower portions of the river.

The bill does not outline any specific projects to be funded, but does mandate that the money be spent on the river (and not any of its tributaries), and that a total of $13 million be allocated toward projects approved by both conservancies.

River revitalization advocates River LA and Friends of the Los Angeles River expressed excitement about the new funding in a joint statement. FoLAR Executive Director Marissa Christiansen noted that the money is set to arrive “at a pivotal moment in the River’s history,” as local leaders plan for restoration projects and development along the 51-mile body of water.

In March, the city of Los Angeles completed the $59.3 million purchase of a 41-acre parcel of river-adjacent land in Cypress Park. The plot is considered a key element of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-led plan for the revitalization of an 11-mile stretch of river that stretches from Griffith Park to Downtown LA.

Meanwhile, architect Frank Gehry continues to work on a rather secretive master plan for the entire river. Last year, River LA released an online index detailing some of Gehry’s research and findings related to the project.

As for the state funding, the Santa Monica Conservancy hasn’t responded to an inquiry about how it would use the money and Rivers and Mountains says it has projects in the works in Long Beach and South Gate, but it didn’t provide specifics.

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