Riding my bike around the Sepulveda Basin today, I was startled and sickened to see a river lined with trash.
Plastic bags literally covered every branch, every limb, and every single tree along both sides of the banks; devouring, like some gruesome movie monster, nature.
The amount of garbage is so extreme, so massive, so overpowering, that the camera’s lens is unable to completely capture the visual tragedy. Like Haiti after its quake, a photographer must decide whether to shoot wide angle, thus diminishing the particular atrocity, or to go close-up, possibly denying the vast destruction all around. I shot these images both far and close to record the appalling filth and criminal neglect of the river.
There are other sections of the LA River, formerly encased in concrete, now undergoing naturalization. This area of the river, which meanders gently through the San Fernando Valley acts as a flood basin and wildlife preserve.
The City of Los Angeles has abrogated its moral and legal responsibility by allowing and ignoring this environmental catastrophe.
One weekend of box office receipts, from the theaters showing AVATAR in the nation of Moldavia, would probably be enough to pay for a LA River clean-up. Two weeks of Ellen DeGeneres’ paychecks might finance the annual salary of 20 city workers assigned to protect the river. 1/44th of suspected comedian Conan O’Brien’s $44 million dollar pay out might save the lives of thousands of birds.
The pictures on this page were shot around Balboa Boulevard in Encino.