Ecology and Habitat

Enhance and connect the region’s rich natural biodiversity. 

A healthy river ecosystem provides a “landscape mosaic” of native plant and animal communities which survive in relationship to one another, and supports the health and wellbeing of people by cleaning air and water as well as absorbing carbon.

Today the LA River, like many urban rivers, is considered “fragmented” because it no longer has a matrix of territory to support a functional ecosystem. With the rapid urbanization of LA County and the confinement of the river its character and the diverse species it once supported has dramatically declined. The watershed is estimated to have lost 100% of the original lower riverine and tidal marsh and 98% of all inland freshwater marsh and ephemeral ponds.1

To begin quantifying the value of ecosystem restoration, riparian models are being developed. The Army Corps of Engineers provides a resource called Habitat Evaluation and Assessment Tools (HEAT), which can be used to assess the potential impacts and benefits of projects on local ecologies. As the project develops other models may be incorporated to calculate the benefits of enhancing the river’s ecosystems and expanding riparian habitat.

1 Wetland and riparian mapping within the rivers and mountains conservancy territory: a landscape profile. 2006. S Dark, DL Bram, M Quinones, LD Duong, J Patananan, J Dooley, M Antos, F Bashir, J Mejia, M Sutula, E Blok. Technical Report 519. Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Costa Mesa, CA., http://ftp.sccwrp.org/pub/download/DOCUMENTS/TechnicalReports/519_wetland_rip_mapping_conservancy.pdf