APES students boat down LA River

Eight AP Environmental Science students kayaked down the Los Angeles River on Sept. 23,   which was declared navigable in 2008.

George Wolfe, a political activist, helped deem the river navigable after a vagabond expedition down the river four years ago.

Wolfe’s goal was to revitalize the river and make it “a connector between the LA River and other rivers worldwide,” according to LA River Expedition, the company which Wolfe founded and now owns.

The federal government took control of the river after a major flood in the early 1900s.

The river then ended up in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers, who encased the river in concrete.

Wolfe, however, wanted to reclaim the river.

The only way to do so was  to declare it navigable under the Clean Water Act, which would help in opening up access of the river to the public.

Now, Wolfe’s company runs kayaking tours on the river and aims to open up access to it for recreational purposes while enhancing the overall river ecosystem.

Many people never recognized the river as more than a concrete embankment, if they had recognized it at all, Environmental Club leader Kevin Adler ’13 said.

“We have a river!” Adler said. “I thought it was all concrete, but I was wrong. It kind of felt like going through the tropics; there were trees all around.”

The river was clean, populated with wildlife, and clear of graffiti.

The students began at the Sepulveda dam near Burbank and paddled upstream to Balboa Park.

Along the way, environmental science teachers Hilary Ethe ’00, who spearheaded the trip, and Dietrich Schuhl discussed topics that would be covered later in the year in their AP Environmental Science courses, such as cultural eutrophication.

“It was a nice introduction to later parts of the class,” Adler said.

However, the expedition encompassed every topic that might come up in the course, and promoted a connection between classroom material and the outdoors, Ethe said.

“Everything is connected; nothing is learned in isolation,” Ethe said. “It’s something Mr. Schuhl and I always try to do: bring home why what we’re learning matters. APES students are out there to experience relevancy.”

Also, the Environmental Club, headed by Adler and Merissa Mann ’13 hosted the screening of  a documentary called “Rock the Boat” on Oct. 8 in Ahmanson Hall.

The documentary was centered on environmental activists kayaking down the Los Angeles River.

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