Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday he will urge a panel of top U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials in Washington, D.C., this week to advance a $1.3 billion project to restore natural elements to an 11-mile stretch of the Los Angeles River.

Garcetti told City News Service he will make a “final pitch” on Thursday to the Civil Works Review Board, made up of senior Army Corps of Engineers officials based in Washington, D.C.

The panel will consider a draft of the final environmental impact report for the project that is aimed at bringing back the natural ecosystem to a portion of the Los Angeles River that flows between Griffith Park and downtown Los Angeles.

Much of the 51-mile-long Los Angeles River was covered in concrete during the early part of the 20th century to prevent flooding and to serve as a drain during storms.

The proposed restoration project was prompted by the efforts of local river activists and elected officials who wanted to restore the river’s natural habitat, flora and fauna, as well as making it more inviting for public recreational use.

The Civil Works Review Board’s approval would be a key milestone for the project, according to Jay Field of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Los Angeles district.

If the board signs off on the environmental impact report, local officials hope to get final approval from the Army Corps’ chief of engineer by November, Field said.

That would allow the Army Corps to begin pitching the project to Congress for funding authorization as part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, he said.

Garcetti will also be in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to speak to journalists during a National Press Club event. He is the featured speaker at the press club’s “Newsmakers” event set for 10 a.m., at the National Press Building.

The event, which follows a question and answer “news conference” format, is sometimes broadcast on C-Span, according to event organizer Bob Weiner.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is a past Newsmakers speaker, Weiner said.

Garcetti is headlined to talk about the recently adopted $15 minimum wage in Los Angeles, and is also expected to discuss his response to the historic drought in California, Weiner said.

Garcetti will also talk about the role of local governments in tackling “immigration reform while Congress remains deadlocked on the issue,” according to the press club’s website.

— City News Service

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