The words decrepit, scummy, trashy, joke, have all been synonymous with the Los Angeles River ever since the Southland’s once wild riparian path was ingloriously channeled and lined with concrete by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930s. The decision to channel and concrete the river was taken in reaction to a series of floods in the early 20th Century. The floods during this period caused widespread destruction, but the advantages achieved by enforcing the unnatural reconfiguration of nature had the long term effect of stifling one of the region’s most vital natural resources.
Enter Infinity SUP frontman Dave Boehne. In 2009, a good two years before this author had ever heard of stand up paddling, Dave Boehne spontaneously charted an urban course along the Los Angeles River, becoming the first person to paddle a SUP through the concrete jungle. Adopting the role similar to that of an intrepid explorer, Boehne’s voyage was an important contribution to generating broader awareness to the plight of the Los Angeles River in popular culture. His trip was documented at the time, but with the rapid expansion in popularity of stand up paddling there is an intrinsic value in revisiting Boehne’s early adventure to remind the current generation paddlers of the achievement.
BlackFish in the Water
Fast forward to 2015 where Infinity SUP went back to the future. Dave Boehne brought along a few Speed Freaks this time around to keep him company, and boys on the BlackFish stand up paddled a section of the newly christened Los Angeles River Recreation Zone. Though now closed for the season, two sections of the Los Angeles River were open for public use this past summer. Dubbed the Elysian Valley River Recreation Zone and the Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone, the areas provided approximately 4.5 miles of public access along the river.
The recreation zones are part of a pilot program undertaken by the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority to incrementally revitalize the broader catchment basin into a 51 contiguous mile stretch of public recreational space lined by parks and greenbelts with the goals of enhancing the quality of life for the city’s residents, improving water quality and promoting public health. “All the revitalization is just a building block to filtering clean water and ultimately to keep the ocean cleaner as well”, said Boehne. “The community can rally behind and be proud of the LA River and it can be a focal point for the city.” For more on the Los Angeles River Recreation Zone, visit lariverrecreation.org.
Infinity SUP is a family owned business in Dana Point, California. Founded by legendary shaper Steve Boehne in the early 1970s, the company has consistently evolved through the decades to remain on point in projecting the trends of our time.