August 5, 2014

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Today Amigos de los Rios and The Conservation Fund released a visionary plan to make the Los Angeles region a better place to live, work and play. The Emerald Necklace Forest to Ocean Expanded Vision plan establishes a comprehensive and strategic guide to create a network of parks and public open spaces connected by river greenways and trails across the Los Angeles Basin.  

With more than 10 million people living in Los Angeles County, this vast and growing population requires large-scale infrastructure to support all of its 88 cities. While the present looks gray—with over 20,000 miles of roads[i], bustling ports, paved riverbeds and concrete irrigation channels—the future holds the potential to be much greener.

The Expanded Vision plan outlines a system of walking and biking trails that connect the forest to the ocean. The plan aims to improve public health by establishing safer outdoor places where kids can play, and creating opportunities for new green jobs that support conservation, restoration and recreation.

“The Emerald Necklace Expanded Vision plan is a visionary framework to link important LA area watersheds and the communities they touch,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Much in the way that our vision for the LA River encompasses its entire 51 mile length, both inside and outside our city limits, the Expanded Vision takes a regional approach to providing much needed open space in some of our most park poor neighborhoods.”

Over the past decade, Amigos de los Rios created 10 parks in Eastern Los Angeles County within the Emerald Necklace, a 17-mile loop of parks and greenways connecting 10 cities and nearly 500,000 residents along the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River watersheds. In 2012, Amigos teamed up with The Conservation Fund to expand the Emerald Necklace efforts by creating a vision that would link the mountains to the sea.

“We hope the Emerald Necklace Expanded Vision plan will instill a fierce sense of urgency—a call for real and lasting results to improve green infrastructure—across the entire county,” said Amigos de los Rios President, Claire Robinson. “The plan is a roadmap for uniting East and West, Mountains to Ocean, collaborating effectively across jurisdictions to put a human face to infrastructure and accelerate improvements for the benefit of children and public health. We need to promote best practices in sustainable city design and improve access to open spaces.”

The Expanded Vision draws from the best practices of metropolitan regions across the country and was inspired by the 1930 Olmsted-Bartholomew Plan that astutely predicted many of the urban challenges facing the Los Angeles region today including traffic, air pollution, swelling populations and lack of parks, playgrounds and public beaches.

Amigos de los Rios commissioned The Conservation Fund to take a fresh look at how the region might use green infrastructure—and an interconnected network of parks, rivers and lands—to help reconnect people and wildlife to the county’s lands and waters. For 18 months, The Conservation Fund worked with Amigos to convene stakeholder groups, synthesize existing plans, analyze mapping data and evaluate potential implementation strategies across the county.

“As one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, the Los Angeles region should be leading the country in park and recreation opportunities, but it is not yet,” said The Conservation Fund’s William L. Allen, III. “Countywide, only 36 percent of children live within one-quarter mile of a park, compared to 85 percent in San Francisco. That’s not good news for those of us who care about clean air, healthy communities and a growing green economy. If we aspire to those goals, we will need to write a new chapter for the region and adapt the original plan to modern times.”

Lead support for the Expanded Vision was provided by the California Strategic Growth Council, as well as in-kind support from agencies of the Emerald Necklace Coalition.

Additional Information
Emerald Necklace Forest to Ocean Expanded Vision plan

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states to protect more than 7.5 million acres of land since 1985.

About Amigos de los Rios

Amigos de los Rios (Amigos) is dedicated to building sustainable communities through green infrastructure development. Our mission is to create a continuous “Emerald Necklace” network of urban parks and trails throughout Los Angeles County, linking Southern Californian communities  to nature and expanding residents’ access to safe and convenient green spaces and outdoor recreational opportunities. By engaging stakeholders with multi-use park facilities, Amigos works to increase public health and instill community members with shared values of cultural awareness and environmental stewardship.

Press Release Contacts
Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |
Ramiro de Santiago | Amigos de los Rios | 626-791-1611 |
Claire Robinson| Amigos de los Rios | 626-676 5027 |