LA River's leading advocate Lewis MacAdams steps down

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The man who led the charge to return the 51-mile Los Angeles River to its natural state is stepping down after three decades. Lewis McAdams co-founded the nonprofit Friends of the Los Angeles River, responsible for making river conservation, cleanup and development important issues for local lawmakers.

"FOLAR is based on the idea of fun," MacAdams told KCRW. "It’s not an environmental organization per se. It’s a place where people gather to enjoy their lives along a river that most people didn’t think was a river until very recently."

FOLAR now has 40,000 supporters and led the effort to win approval of a $1.6-billion federal project to restore an 11-mile section of the river north of downtown.

MacAdams, 73, leaves behind a water system peppered with new bike paths, green shore banks and even places to take a dip. Marissa Christiansen, 35 had been FOLAR's senior policy director and will soon take over as head of the organization.

Photo: Friends of the Los Angeles River Co-founder and President Lewis MacAdams. (Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority)