Bring Back the River: Restoring the Los Angeles River Watershed

submission by seco

About Your Application

Organization(s) name(s):

Arroyo Seco Foundation

Organization(s) website(s):

Organization(s) twitter handle(s):

Organization(s) facebook handle(s):

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Please share the direct link for voters to sign up for your newsletter(s):

Describe Your Organization(s)

Non-profit organization

For-profit organization


Other (please specify below):

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


Our Foundation is committed to restoring the Arroyo Seco Stream to a living river that provides habitat for fish, wildlife, and conservation and provides Southern Californians a greater interaction and appreciation of the Los Angeles River Watershed.

In one to three sentences, please describe your proposal.


The Arroyo River Parks Program (ARPP) will build community support for re-imagining our watershed from a sterile concrete channel to a vibrant river ecosystem.

The ARPP program will educate citizens about the river revitalization planned by the Army Core of Engineers on the Arroyo Seco Stream in Los Angeles County.

To reach out to the community we want to establish a native plant nursery that will be the central location of our effort to reconnect the community to the LA River Watershed.

Where will you be working? Please be specific (e.g. Third Street Middle School; Boyle Heights; LA County).

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles (countywide)

City of Los Angeles (citywide)


Other (please specify below):

How do you plan to use these resources to make change? (check all that apply)

Conduct research

Engage residents and stakeholders

Implement a pilot or new project

Expand a pilot or program

Mobilize for systems change

Advocate with policymakers and leaders

Implement and track policy

Other (please specify below):


Provide native plants for restoration and education.

How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics? (check all that apply)

Rates of volunteerism

Voting rates by race

Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support

Median travel time to work

Attendance at cultural events

Number of public transit riders

Participation in neighborhood councils

Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)

Transit-accessible housing and employment (the share of housing units and percentage of jobs that are located near transit)

Total number of local social media friends and connections (Dream Metric)

Attendance at public/open streets gatherings (Dream Metric)

Residential segregation (Dream Metric)

Access to free wifi (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.


The Arroyo Seco Stream that begins in the San Gabriel Mountains is a major tributary of the Los Angeles River with its confluence at the 110 FWY and the 5 FWY. During the 1930’s the stream was lined with concrete to accelerate the rate of water to protect against flooding. In this action the Arroyo lost its ability to provide habitat for aquatic species and tremendous opportunities for people to appreciate the Arroyo. Our mission in making Los Angeles a better place to connect is to restore the connection between people and water. The Arroyo River Parks Program (ARPP) was started in 2008 and provides a plan to connect 30 open spaces parks around the Arroyo Seco. The connectivity will provide trails and recreation from Downtown Los Angeles to the Foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. This plan also calls for the removal of concrete and re-implementation of native vegetation in an effort to #BringBackTheRiver.

Fortunately our vision to restore the stream has been shared by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USCAE) and the County of Los Angeles Public Works. In 2011 the Arroyo Seco Watershed Ecosystem Restoration Study outlined several options for restoring the Arroyo Seco Stream. This upcoming spring 2016 the USACE will present several alternatives for the project. Our mission in applying for this grant funding is to garnish public input that will be presented to the USACE. We believe community input on this process will ultimately propel the project and will be a model for future river restoration throughout Southern California. To bolster support we would like to hold monthly workshops throughout the communities on this issue, in an effort to spur public dialogue and provide insight to the USACE. Furthermore making Los Angeles a better place to connect requires the support and contribution of all individuals, especially in restoring river vitality in light of an historic drought in Southern California. Therefore the need to bring about community awareness on water issues is not only imperative but urgent for our water sustainable vision of Los Angeles in 2050.

In our involvement with the community on this issue we have started a native plant nursery at the head waters of the Arroyo Seco Stream. The Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery seeks to bring in volunteers and community officials to re-connect with native plants. We want the nursery to be a central part of our efforts, and need this grant to purchase a permanent lease.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.


The real test of the effectiveness of this campaign will be the extent to which we have influenced public support for the restoration of a living stream in the Arroyo Seco. We will evaluate our project by the amount of public support we can turn out for the USACE’s unveiling of project alternatives and amount of public comments provided.

In building public support we want to work with as many schools, government agencies, and other non-profit organizations as we can to educate them on the Arroyo Seco Stream restoration plan and our wider effort in the ARPP. We also want to ensure the future of our plant nursery, so that future restoration projects have locally climate adapted plants at the ready.

How many people attend the workshops?
How many people provide comments on the USACE alternatives?
How many governmental agencies and stakeholder organizations co-sponsor the workshops?
How many volunteer hours at the nursery and in action projects?

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

Other (please specify below):

26 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

It was interesting to see equestrian use promoted in the Arroyo excluding the much more egalitarian and burgeoning bike culture in the video. Since a concrete channel already exists could a small sliver be saved and retrofitted as a possible bike connector to the confluence and beyond? I mention this because I am looking at mitigating bike lane costs while creating a bicycle expressway minimally impacting the environment since it's already in place much like the 2 mile plus bike path that already exists from roughly Highland Park to Montecito Heights in the channel. Currently bikes are shut out of the Arroyo in the areas depicted in the video. Can this be addressed in the master plan?
Go with the flow,
Will Fernandez
Champions for Change

by Eaglerocker1
5 months ago

This program would really restore the natural heritage of our area, a great goal for 2050.

by BrentA
5 months ago

We have an imperative compromise to restore the nature that we had depleted. It is a responsability to fix what we break. Our next generation have the right to enjoy nature too. I want my loves ones to enjoy the sound of the river, see a clean water full of life and fill their sight with the live colors in spring and every season.

5 months ago

As a hiker and lover of healthy watersheds, I support your plan.

by brittsheflin
5 months ago

This nursery is a dream come true for those of us who would like to see the Arroyo Seco revived as a living river from the San Gabriels to the ocean. It is also a resource for learning about the plants that grew in this area before other plants were imported by immigrants from other countries and cultures. We have many native plants that would be lovely garden plants, and many have been cultivated for European gardens. We have penstemons, and lupine, and a rainbow of colors in our California Native plants. We have shrubs, trees, and annual and perennial flowers galore!

by yana119
5 months ago

The Arroyo Seco Foundation's Hahamongna nursery is a local example to every region of how to do Native plant restoration consciously. and effectively. Utilizing local genetics of native plant species while making them available for the public at affordable prices and ways. with free education and classes. creating a sense of place and action that benefits not only people but the environment. most projects in southern california are still deliberating and planning, but the Arroyo Seco foundation is busy already doing, implementing action with vision and creating community involvement. this is something to support and to become apart of!

by Laurelsumac89
6 months ago

I grew up near one of these awful concrete ditches (not this Arroyo)... which used to be a wetland my dad caught tadpoles in when he was a kid. A quarter mile from my house as a child, it was a massive stinky gutter with green polluted water down the middle. Even when I was very young I felt like I had been robbed of something... if everyone in town had just agreed to 10% less lawn in the front of their house there easily could have been enough space to keep it a wetland and stream.
Well, this arroyo has less houses crowded on the edge so I think this could really work, also bring open space and trails to people who really need it .Best of luck!

by naturalist.charlie
6 months ago

Arroyo seco made the L.A. Times in a new local article, such a great story was written by Sara Cardine who came to the nursery and experienced the arroyo secos vision and work in action, read it here;

by Laurelsumac89
6 months ago

I volunteer at the Hahamongna nursery, and I see how it deeply it touches so many people from so many walks of life to learn about and engage with our local native plants and ecosystems. There's nothing like getting your hands in the soil and nurturing seeds and cuttings into young plants, especially when it is connected to the vision of a beautifully and fully restored Arroyo Seco and LA River.

by SisterBertrille
6 months ago

Would love to see this area restored. It would impact so many lives (plant, animal, and human) for good!

by hballard0
6 months ago

with the Los Angeles river project in deliberation and discussion, the Arroyo Seco as in the past can now in the future be the place where it can once again be an experimental ground for the concrete channel removal and be the first to be restored with native plants and stream flow. Being that blue print of what is possible not only for the LA river but the rest of southern California's altered and channeled streams and rivers. to reinstate the endangered southern California steel head trout, that would travel from the San Gabriel mountains to the ocean in a journey of survival and reproduction,

by Laurelsumac89
6 months ago

Think steelhead will ever return to the LA River. If they do, it will be first to the Arroyo Seco, where they used to frolic.

by riverlover
6 months ago

I really want to see the Arroyo Seco restored as a stream again. The native riparian habitat is much needed and it would be a wonderful place for the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods to reconnect with their natural heritage.

by cferron
6 months ago

Restoring a properly functional river would provide so many benefits, including stormwater management and groundwater recharge. Very apropos topic in a time of drought and El Nino. Plus, fish in a Los Angeles river? Really? That would be awesome.

by mpejic
6 months ago

The confluenece of the Arroyo Seco and the Los Angeles River is the reason Los Angeles exists as a city at all! This is a great proposal, I would love to be able to explore the area better.

by susannacdb
6 months ago

This is the most inspiring video on here by far -- and the most ambitious and inspiring vision for the future of Los Angeles. Bring nature back to the city! Bring our rivers back! Help the environment and connect all the communities along the Arroyo through a series of River Parks! I love it.

The greatest part of it all is that it is possible. Let’s make it happen!

by rewindthefifties
6 months ago

Restore a river in LA! What a lofty goal, and the Arroyo Seco, a major tributary of the LA River is a prime candidate. Community involvement and the US Army Corps ecosystem study give hope that it can actually be done. This is a thrilling program to restore LA's natural heritage and improve the quality of life in Southern California. What a great model!

by riverlover
6 months ago

It's imperative to do everything we can to leave behind a healthier world for the future generations, with native plant restoration, a return to a natural flowing stream with community and ecological benefits unrivaled anywhere else in southern California's suburban landscape. there's incredible opportunity to go back to the very roots of the land and giving back to our natural and bio diverse heritage. Through education and community programs the arroy seco can be that space, that place where nature can be show cased and included into Southern California's urban areas once more.

by Laurelsumac89
6 months ago

One of the best organizations out there.

by mitch.tsai
6 months ago

The earth is everyone's common home and requires our protection to ensure its longevity and our well being. I believe Arroyo Seco River Parks presents great opportunity to recover many of our lost resources, restore valuable habitats and bring people together by uniting them in a common goal that benefits all.

by pancho.fernandez
6 months ago

This looks like a good idea to be pursued.

by yana119
5 months ago

Such a great article!

by rewindthefifties
6 months ago

What a great account of what once was, what was lost, and what we stand to regain once again!

by rewindthefifties
6 months ago

Thanks for reminding us of the history of LA and the role the Arroyo Seco played in locating the original pueblo in 1781. The early settlers realized they needed to be wary of the floods that would occasionally roar down from the San Gabriel Mountains to the LA River, so they settled an a safe nearby mesa.

by riverlover
6 months ago

You're so right! That is a terrific video and very inspiring. We can do it! We can restore our rivers and streams.

by riverlover
6 months ago

I'm with you, naturalist.charlie. Why does every stream in Southern California have to be encased in concrete. The Arroyo is the leading candidate for real restoration.

by riverlover
6 months ago

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Submission Began
Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Submission Ended
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, December 08, 2015