My first experience with the LA river was during a school trip that involved numerous failed pH tests and an astoundingly high number of cigarette butts. Though not the most pleasant description, I enjoyed the experience and looked forward to going again. The fact that this time I was expecting not only to clean up the LA river, but to collect trash to later use for art, was a two-fold source of interest for me. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend at available times and instead visited the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve.
I have been there a few times with my cousins––we make a habit of offering accented documentary commentary on the birds (primarily ducks) as they pass. They frequently walk ever so slightly faster as you approach in a facade of calm before taking off in a flustered panic. This time I went with my sister, the two of us equipped with gloves and a respective trash bag. As we maneuvered between the bushes to find more trash, we noticed traffic cones half submerged in water and a cluster of plastic bags plastered along the side of the creak. The ducks would sometimes approach only to quickly turn around and waddle across the dirt path to the larger lake.
I was pleasantly surprised to find little to no trash around the actual lake, a spot I used to eat sandwiches at with my cousins while our grandmother casually dropped nature facts. Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but I like to believe the cleaner lake area is due to the greater number of people congregating there (for example, a bird-watching group passed by with binoculars and near-identical hats). It seems there is environmental awareness among at least some Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve patrons. This hypothesis is strengthened by the greater grouping of trash in less frequented areas without clear paths. There is hope for LA yet! Of course, the unexpectedly high number of food wrappers makes you wonder how much.
While admittedly not the expansive LA river, the Reserve still welcomes its share of visitors and like many (if not most) wildlife spots in Los Angeles, is in need of attention and care. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the cleanup effort and to specifically do so with my sister while an older gentleman talked about his favorite birds and offered us his binoculars should we like to join his birdwatching group (we did).