Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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Un-greening the river

The best thing about the L.A. River as it runs through Frogtown/Elysian Valley and other areas nearby is the trees and other green that have defied the concrete and found a foothold. Islands of rock, soil and roots have formed. There are cottonwoods. And there's also the not-so-fabulous weed "bamboo" (arundo donax) known for choking streams (but not rivers). By accident, there is beauty down there in the margin, in a place that was designed as an open-air drain. It came to us without the city's permission, but we shouldn't trample it. The trees should be treated with care. They're a natural gift from the present moment. So I felt quite ill when I received an email from Jay Babcock of Nature Trumps reporting that city contractors were down at the river cutting trees. According to Babcock, it was two trucks-full of "at risk" young workers, who apparently had substandard supervision. They cut the bamboo with chainsaws. Clearing the bamboo seems to have been their assignment. That job probably requires digging tools, not chain saws. And they were not prevented from unnecessarily turning the saws on cottonwood trees. The results, which you can see on Nature Trumps, are pretty ugly (no oxymoron intended -- but the situation demands one, much as the bamboo demanded a foothold).

For more details and to view Babcock's still and video footage of the mess, click here.

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