Tuesday, July 26, 2011

River restoration not going according to government plan

The largest river restoration ever attempted in the West — intended to support a cornucopia of wildlife and outdoor activities — has left a 62-mile stretch of the Lower Owens so overrun with cattails, cane and bulrushes that it may take decades to bring them under control. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa turned a knob in 2006 that opened a diversion dam gate about 235 miles north of the city, putting water back into a river essentially left dry after its flows of Sierra snowmelt were diverted to the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. Officials from Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which manages the Lower Owens River, boasted that within 10 years, the waterway would come back to life as a healthy and diverse ecosystem for fish, frogs and waterfowl, shaded by canopies of cottonwoods and willows. The rehabilitated river would attract more tourists to financially struggling Owens Valley towns with bass fishing tournaments and a kayaking experience some called "the long glide" because the river's carefully controlled flows would be free of rapids and waterfalls...more

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