Inspiration in El Monte

GAINING JOB SKILLS WHILE BUILDING AN “EMERALD NECKLACE” OF TREES THROUGH LOS ANGELES COUNTY 

by Molly Miller (re-published from UpliftCA)

A kid growing up around the 1400-acre Whittier Narrows Park in South El Monte, near East Los Angeles can spend summer afternoons fishing in the San Gabriel River. It’s stocked with bass and trout.

Whittier Narrows, an important part of L.A.’s watershed, runs alongside the confluence of two great rivers, the Rio Hondo and the San Gabriel. In the midst of one of the most populous urban areas in the nation, the park also runs alongside two massive freeways that contribute to some of America’s worst air pollution and highest concentration of greenhouse gas emissions.

Large sycamore shade trees once helped dampen the freeway noise, but the trees, rendered vulnerable by California’s extreme drought, are nearly all dying from the attacks of an invasive Asian beetle. The county has lost a devastating 20,000 or more trees as a result of drought factors, with 14,000 dead trees in L.A. parks as of 2015.

Now, California climate change policies have started to bring hope to these parks and job prospects to at-risk youth and young adults. Read more

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