When engineers in the late 1930s conceived the idea of encasing a 51-mile sprawling waterway in concrete it made sense -- two massive storms had just caused highly destructive and deadly floods. But when the poet Lewis MacAdams and friends gathered at the river in the mid-1980s, that engineering feat had come to represent an ugly barrier and repudiation of nature.
For 30 years, MacAdams has led the chorus for re-imagining our concrete flood control channel through the nonprofit he co-founded, Friends of the Los Angeles River. Its work helped bring about approval of a $1.6-billion federal project to restore natural habitat and expand access along an 11-mile section of riverbed north of downtown. But success has also brought conflict over competing interests and design and development goals at the river. DnA talks to MacAdams and FOLAR's new Executive Director, Marissa Christiansen, about what's next for the LA River.