An Emerald Necklace For Los Angeles
Peck Water Conservation Park, Los Angeles. Photo by Whitney Flanagan/The Conservation Fund
Conservationists in Los Angeles County, California, are converting abandoned lots, empty street medians and other neglected spots into pockets of green that ultimately will connect 62 cities in an “emerald necklace” of parks and trails from the San Gabriel Forest to the Pacific Ocean. To advance this effort, we’re providing financing and strategic conservation planning to nonprofit Amigos de los Rios.
Past Green Infrastructure Efforts And The Conservation Fund
There have been numerous green plans for Los Angeles County produced over the years by various groups, going all the way back to the original 1930 Olmsted-Bartholomew Plan.
In 2005, Amigos de los Rios created an updated plan that identified opportunities to create a 17-mile loop of connected green spaces as an “Emerald Necklace” around the area. Numerous groups have been working collectively over the past 15 years to implement this 2005 vision. However, what has been lacking is an understanding of how individual initiatives and projects fit together into a broader whole.
This is where the Fund comes in: By combining existing adopted plans to strategically expand the Emerald Necklace vision concept, our green infrastructure plan will not duplicate previous planning efforts but rather combine elements of previous plans into an expanded Emerald Necklace Vision that will promote collective action and improve the quality of life for all residents of Los Angeles County.
Expanded Vision Plan
The Fund’s Expanded Vision Plan for green infrastructure in Los Angeles County will include action-oriented recommendations that have a foundation in existing work by Amigos de los Rios and numerous other agency and nonprofit partners throughout the region.
The goal of our plan is to establish the Olmsted-Bartholomew Plan as a common vision for the expanded Emerald Necklace and adapt it to modern realities on the landscape. Despite all of the different green planning efforts currently going on in Los Angeles County, there is a surprising amount of agreement on what needs to be done. We assessed more than 40 planning, research and visioning documents related to green infrastructure in Los Angeles County in order to identify overarching themes.
The common themes include:
- creating recreational facilities;
- promoting environmental education and public awareness;
- protecting habitat as a safeguard for climate change;
- promoting multi-purpose implementation plans that lead to habitat protection and recreation opportunities;
- managing storm water and water quality issues;
- collaborating across government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private entities to implement and manage multi-benefit projects;
- and using greenways and bicycle pathways to promote regional interconnectivity and to address a lack of open space for urban areas.
Our goals for implementing our green infrastructure will include specific action-oriented strategies:
1) Implement priority projects within the Los Angeles/Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River watersheds in the ‘original’ Emerald Necklace.
2) Promote collaboration through expansion of resources to green infrastructure hubs within the expanded Emerald Necklace.
3) Protect and enhance the “jewels” that have been identified on the expanded Emerald Necklace.
4) Balance gray and green infrastructure to create more functional natural and recreational networks.
5) Adapt and mitigate for climate change and its impact on water resources, treating water as a multi-benefit amenity.
We hope our Expanded Vision Plan will provide the impetus for collaboration and lead to the formal adoption of our plan by LA County and municipalities.