Hundreds of people are expected to gather today to help clean up the Los Angeles River. After all, what are friends for?
Organized by the Friends of the Los Angeles River, a nonprofit organization founded to preserve the waterway's heritage and habitat, the cleanup effort will take place at six sites, including Balboa Park in the Sepulveda Basin.
Project coordinator Dan Ratliff said the task may be more challenging than ever. "It looks like there's more debris than in previous years, maybe because of the rain," Ratliff said.
This will be the group's sixth annual cleanup effort. Last year, volunteers removed more than 30 tons of trash, a third of which was recycled, he said. Furthermore, he said, the effort will take on greater urgency this year due to concern that the Army Corps of Engineers might erect eight-foot walls along the river's banks to expand its capacity during heavy storms.
"That would degrade the nature of the river," Ratliff said, "and be another source for graffiti. Part of the reason to do the cleanup is to build a constituency of people concerned about the river."
Besides Balboa Park, the effort will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Willow Street in Long Beach, Compton Creek at Alondra Blvd. and Oleander Ave in Compton; Riverside Drive in Elysian Valley, the Los Feliz Boulevard bridge in Atwater Village and Bette Davis Park in Griffith Park.
The first 100 people at each site will receive a free T-shirt. High school bands will provide entertainment.