river

Re-connecting the Two Hearted River

A six-year effort has now been completed—using funds from EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other sources—to re-connect 35 miles of the Two Hearted River. As a result, this waterway is now one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the Great Lakes.

Though the Two Hearted is the only designated wilderness river in the state, that doesn’t mean the watershed hasn’t been beaten up, much of its bruising from sweeping white pine clear-cutting decades ago. More recently, stream crossings over culverts have collapsed, creating jams and resulting in sediment pouring into the waterway. The stream then fractured, with spawning beds smothering from siltation.

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The L.A. River: A Winding, Twisting Tale of Survival

By Jessica Werber

I spent most of my formative years in Los Angeles, taking walks down a concrete pathway that I didn’t even realize was part of the LA River. I would jump from side to side, run back and forth, and slide along the warm sun-baked cement. I wasn’t splashing in puddles because there was no water that I could see, feel, or hear. It was all concrete.

The story of the LA River began long before I was born. In 1913, the city increased in density and the LA Aqueduct was built. The river’s historic flow pattern led to winter flooding, which resulted in millions of dollars in property damage and dozens of deaths. By the mid-1930s, local municipalities started flood control efforts to abate winter flood flows, and the Army Corps of Engineers was tasked with designing a flood risk management system. The end result was the river that I would later come to know as my concrete playground.

More than 70 years later, in 2007, LA took steps to restore the river to a more natural state. The city drafted the LA River Revitalization Master Plan, with a long-term vision benefiting water quality, flood protection, and community revitalization. Congress directed the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a feasibility study covering different restoration options, which was released for public comment in September 2013. Non-government organizations engaged in local activism and you, the American public, sent in your opinions and ideas.

In 2010, right before I started my fellowship at EPA, the agency took an active role in protecting the LA River by designating all 51 miles a “traditional navigable water” under the Clean Water Act.  In 2013, EPA commented on the Corps’ feasibility study and explained that the principles guiding the effort are part of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, which promotes clean urban waters, water conservation, connecting people and their waterways, encouraging community involvement, and promoting economic prosperity. I believe the restoration of the LA River will help to fulfill these goals for the communities in LA, and I hope people in LA recognize how much effort it takes to restore a river as large as this one.

Look at the two pictures below:

Existing view of Taylor Yard in Los Angeles, CA

Existing view of Taylor Yard in Los Angeles, CA

 

Proposed restoration of Taylor Yard in Los Angeles, CA

Proposed restoration of Taylor Yard in Los Angeles, CA

They are of Taylor Yard, a 247 acre former railroad site near downtown LA. They show the difference between the existing site and a proposed alternative, which replaces the old railroad yard with lush vegetation.

Viewing these contrasting images, I’m transported back to my former life in LA. Adjacent to my bedroom window was a concrete channel that echoed the voices of directors screaming “ACTION!” at the studio across the way. It seems as if action will indeed be taken. By the time my future children visit the LA River, I hope they can appreciate it for what it really is: a river full of life and spirit…and, of, course rushing water.

About the author: Jessica Werber is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Participant in EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds. She is also a licensed attorney.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Clean Up Time for Our Local River

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Greetings from New England!Each Monday we write about the New England environment and way of life seen through our local perspective. Previous posts
By Gina Snyder

Each year for the past 15 years, I’ve celebrated National Trails Day – first Saturday in June – by participating in a river clean up. It gives me a chance to get the winter cobwebs out of my canoe and enjoy the river in the company of hard-working friends.

I live north of Boston near the Ipswich River, once designated as the Third Most Endangered River in America by the advocacy group American Rivers. The Ipswich River was endangered by water withdrawals which have since been reduced, and the river has made a good recovery in the last six years. But this quiet little waterway continues to be plagued by litter.

Every day trash makes its way into the river, and you can see the build-up, particularly around bridges. Why people send their trash sailing out the windows of their cars as they approach and pass over a bridge, I will never understand. So each year, when our local stream team sponsors its clean up, my husband and I dust off our canoe, grab some trash bags and gloves, and set out on the river to help with the clean up.

I also spend one Sunday morning a month monitoring some simple water quality parameters at the river. And I always bring a bag to pick up the monthly accumulation of trash around the bridge.

I find lots of small and some large, liquor bottles, beer and beverage cans, water bottles, and fast food wrappers, cups and bags, and cigarette packs. For several months in a row, I found several pairs of clean, white, sock liners (peds) each month! That might have been the strangest littering I’ve come across.

So, Please, Don’t Litter! Trash is unsightly; it gets into our waterways and presents a danger to the critters that rely on the waterway for food and water. But you can also pitch in, in a good way, by joining in a clean-up.

There are lots of ways to participate in National Trails day next Saturday. The Appalachian Mountain Club and other organizations list opportunities to make the outdoors more accessible and more welcoming on the national trails day website. Take a look and see how you can pitch in.

More EPA information on Trash and Recycling

About the author: Gina Snyder works in the Office of Environmental and Compliance Assistance at EPA New England and has been a volunteer river monitor on the Ipswich River, where she also picks up trash every time she monitors the water quality.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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It’s All About Connections

By Reginald Parrish

Growing up in Central Virginia, I spent many hours enjoying the natural landscape of the region. A favorite past time was fishing along the banks of the James River just north of Lynchburg. I recall being puzzled about why we were told to under no circumstance eat the fish. Still, the river provided a tranquil and relaxing spot — an integral part of our community.

In 2000, I accepted a position as EPA’s Anacostia River community liaison. The Anacostia River is a heavily polluted river that flows from Maryland and traverses the nation’s capitol, bordering historically disadvantaged neighborhoods. I conducted outreach to “east of the river” communities about how to improve the quality of the river and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. As I met with citizens, it became clear that these communities have more pressing concerns than restoring the Anacostia River–joblessness, housing, schools, public safety and economic development. As on the James River, I met many people on the Anacostia who fish as a pastime and consume the fish regardless of warnings.

EPA’s Urban Waters program reconnects populations with their local urban waters to accelerate the restoration of these waters. Over the past several years, EPA and other federal agencies have promoted citizen engagement in hands-on restoration through grants for education and outreach programs for schools, churches, and communities. The Anacostia is also one of seven pilot locations of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership.

EPA’s Urban Waters program supports and advances other community priorities, such as education and jobs through environmental activities. To further this goal, EPA is renewing a Memorandum of Understanding to provide environmental training to at-risk youth with the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC). EPA and ECC are part of a broader local effort by Anacostia Watershed Society, DC Greenworks, Groundwork Anacostia, Living Classrooms, Washington Parks and People to make the restoration of the river relevant to community priorities – by leading youth to green skills and green jobs.

I participated in this program and had a very successful experience with Anthony Gregory who later received an internship with the National Park Service. Anthony is currently still engaged in work on the Anacostia and is excited about working to improve the river. Anthony’s experience is just one of a number of experiences that connect people to their places through ECC and EPA. I am happy to be a part of that experience.

About the author: Reginald Parrish is an urban programs coordinator based in EPA’s Region 3 Chesapeake Bay Program Office

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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We’ll see you in 2012!

About the author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation scientist with EPA who started in 1998. He serves as Chief of the Environmental Assessment and Monitoring Branch in Kansas City.

image of cows walking in toward a van driving through a fieldThe silly season is finally over for my staff. No more traveling to small towns off the beaten path. No more chatting with folks at the grain elevator or eating chicken-fried steak smothered in gravy. No more coaxing the locals (of the four hoof variety) to shift their stance to the right or to the left. We won’t be back this way for another 4 years.

No I’m not talking about the election; I’m talking about our work supporting the National Rivers and Streams Survey (NRSA). This survey helps citizens and governments measure the health of our waters, take actions to prevent pollution, and evaluate the effectiveness of protection and restoration efforts.

Next year Region 7 will be sampling larger rivers and then take a year off as the survey moves to coastal waters. We won’t see our favorite small streams until we do some recon in 2012 in preparation for visiting them again the following year. I would like to say a special thanks to all of those scientists across the country that helped to “GET OUT THE BOAT,” as part of this survey.

imaage of two men walking in stream with cows watching them from the bankA bit of parting wisdom for all of you future volunteers… I guarantee you getting a cow to change its position is tougher than getting a person. Just look at how distrustful these cows were of Shawn and Bray. They just wanted them to MOOOOOOOve on. Send all requests about the NRSA to riversurvey-ow@epa.gov. Send all complaints about bad puns to robichaud.jeffery@epa.gov.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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