Urban Watersheds

Session Title:  Restoring Riparian Landscapes in Urbanized Watersheds of Southern California

Moderator:  Wendy Katagi, CEP, Stillwater Sciences

How are watershed scientists and stewards working together to bring back our riparian habitat?  What’s going on with the LA River Restoration? Can native fish thrive in urban watersheds?  Come on out to hear amazing developments in these and other Southern California stories from watershed experts who are driving forces in restoring our riparian landscapes.

  1. Wendy Katagi – Stillwater Sciences, Acknowledgements:  Ed Dimesa, Dan Sulzer (USACE, LA District), Michael Affeldt (LA Riverworks), Carol Armstrong (City of Los Angeles), and Tim Brick (Arroyo Seco Foundation)  Title:  “Restoration Actions in the Los Angeles River and Upper Tributaries Through the Looking Glass”
  2. Yareli Sanchez – Council for Watershed Health, “Watershed Monitoring Tools Informing Los Angeles River Restoration Opportunities”
  3. Kerwin Russell – Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District “Native Fish Conservation in Southern California”

Presenter #1:  Wendy Katagi, CEP, Stillwater Sciences

Acknowledgements:  Ed Dimesa, Dan Sulzer (USACE, LA District), Michael Affeldt (LA Riverworks), Carol Armstrong (City of Los Angeles), and Tim Brick (Arroyo Seco Foundatiton)

Title:  Restoration Actions in the Los Angeles River and Upper Tributaries Through the Looking Glass

The Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Project involves restoring 11 miles of the Los Angeles River from approximately Griffith Park to downtown Los Angeles, while maintaining existing levels of flood risk management. Restoration measures considered include creation and reestablishment of historic riparian strand and freshwater marsh habitat to support increased populations of wildlife and enhance habitat connectivity within the study area, as well as to provide opportunities for connectivity to ecological zones, such as the Santa Monica Mountains, Verdugo Hills, Elysian Hills, and San Gabriel Mountains. Restoration includes the reintroduction of ecological and physical processes, such as a more natural hydrologic and hydraulic regime that reconnects the river to historic floodplains and tributaries, reduced flow velocities, increased infiltration, improved natural sediment processes, and improved water quality. The project also includes opportunities for passive recreation that is compatible with the restored environment. Together with other restoration projects planned, occurring, and completed in the watershed and upper tributaries of the river such as the Arroyo Seco, riparian systems and multi-species habitat benefits are targeted for recovery.  Stillwater Sciences will share an overview of restoration actions in the Los Angeles River and upper tributaries highlighting work ongoing as well as future plans through the looking glass.

Presenter #2 – Yareli Sanchez, Council for Watershed Health

Title:  Watershed Monitoring Tools Informing Los Angeles River Restoration Opportunities

Recurring comprehensive watershed assessments can provide useful information that help build a greater understanding of watershed dynamics and watershed health. Watershed-wide monitoring program elements, such as bio-assessments, habitat assessments, and water chemistry, help scientists identify ecological needs and future restoration sites.

In a watershed as urban as the Los Angeles River Watershed, there are many degraded sites requiring ecological enhancement. Additionally, in recent years, as efforts to revitalize segments of the river have gained traction, opportunities to engage diverse partners around restoration have arisen.  The Council for Watershed Health has recognized the need and begun to draft a framework to help prioritize sites not only by biological condition but also according to community co-benefits and the goals and priorities of agencies, community organizations, and environmental groups. 

The Council for Watershed Health’s presentation will discuss the Los Angeles River Watershed Monitoring Program, a comprehensive program that began in coordination with enforcement agencies, permittees, and conservation groups. The program is focused on gaining a better understanding of watershed health and creating a foundational understanding of the issues facing an urban watershed. The presentation will describe how monitoring data is being used to identify the stressors that are shaping biological communities and to better understand needed management actions. The presentation will also describe how monitoring data is providing a baseline for exploring potential restoration activities—highlighting the challenges and opportunities around urban restoration in the Los Angeles River Watershed. 

Presenter #3:  Kerwin Russell, Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District

Title:  Native Fish Conservation in Southern California

Native fish conservation and management is a challenging and sometimes difficult process, balancing the needs of water and power managers, landowners, agencies and municipalities.  With reduced hydrologic function, lower elevations streams have become "sinks" for sedimentation, exotic species and human impacts, necessitating the recovery of populations through captive breeding, translocation and relocation projects to functioning streams and restoration of occupied river tributaries.  This presentation will include stories of riparian restoration and fish conservation as well as a path forward.

10:45 - 12:15


Ballroom C