Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the Department of the Interior.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining my friend and colleague Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to celebrate the partnerships that are making the Los Angeles Riverfront a better place to live, work, and visit.
Identified twice as a priority project by the Obama Administration under the America’s Great Outdoors initiative and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, the restoration and revitalization of the Los Angeles River Watershed is a huge undertaking, but has enough support behind it to make it a reality.
Surrounded by members of the community, Mayor Villaraigosa and I heard about the strong partnerships dedicated to transforming the Los Angeles River Watershed and the undeniable link between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.
A concrete corridor once symbolizing pollution and poverty, this watershed has the potential to be the centerpiece of a model urban park. By creating new parks, trails and bikeways along the river, we can help improve access to the riverfront and increase recreational opportunities for the public.
Over the next year, our partnerships between federal and local organizations will complete the restoration and expansion of North Atwater Creek park, build a new campground at the Hansen Dam Recreational area in Lakeview Terrace, complete construction of a new wetlands park to provide recreational opportunities in South Los Angeles, establish a 3,000 foot greenway along the Tujunga Wash and create a wildlife habitat that connects with an existing wildlife corridor.
These projects are only the beginning. Over 30 partners have a master plan identifying long-term projects to help restore the Los Angeles River Watershed so that all will have the opportunity to enjoy the nature in their own backyards. Not only will the projects attract visitors and residents who want to enjoy the great outdoors, but they will also attract businesses that want to enjoy the benefits of the area’s recovery.
This is an investment where everyone benefits. With the continued support and strong partnerships behind projects such as this, we can improve the quality of life and boost the economy in surrounding communities one river.
Ken Salazar is the Secretary of the Interior.