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Scenic Santa Ana River Could Get LA-River-Style Revitalization

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Why should the LA River get all the love, with its big fancy revitalization on the horizon and so many recreational opportunities already available? Another Southern California river, the Santa Ana River, will also be getting what is hopefully the first wave of upgrades and new natural spaces aimed at expanding recreational uses along its paved banks (the river runs roughly from Big Bear to Orange County, where it hits the Pacific). Trails, parks, and clean-ups to allow watersports like kayaking and river rafting are all in the plans, says the LA Times.

Like the LA River, the Santa Ana has long been nothing more than a drainage channel (the LA River became an official "navigable waterway" in 2013), but new state legislation creates the Santa Ana River Conservancy Program to improve river-adjacent areas for wildlife, as well as for people who live and play in "one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation," as the river runs from Big Bear through San Bernardino and Riverside, through Corona, then into Orange County, passing Orange, Santa Ana, and meeting the ocean at Huntington Beach. As writer DJ Waldie points out, rivers "are the last open space we have in working-class and park-poor communities for healthy recreational goals such as walking, hiking and biking trails."

Santa Ana's boosters hope to eventually create 30 new miles of trail and a complete link from Big Bear Lake to Huntington Beach—a 110-mile-long path. And the river's got a lot more potential: cities along the way, like the aptly-named Riverside, have plans of their own to develop riverfront space into parks. Other areas, like 2,150 acres of wetlands behind Prado Dam, have been doing just fine without a hand and will likely only get better with the new flood of attention.
· How California is turning drainage canals back to rivers [LAT]
· LA River Rising [Curbed LA]