LAPFD Flotilla Takes on LA River (With Gary Leonard Photos)

09/10/2010 12:00 pm 12:00:58 | Updated May 25, 2011

On Sunday, September 5, 2010, ten brave paddlers led by Brendan Nelson with Anthea Raymond took to the waters of the Los Angeles River.

Calling themselves the LAPFD -- after the life vests they wore by law -- they were journalists, photographers, urban planners, carpenters, arborists, lawyers, entertainment industry pros, and teachers.

They drifted, paddled, scraped, and dragged along in canoes and kayaks of various kinds.

They started at Atwater's Red Car Park and finished where Silver Lake's Frogtown meets the Elysian Valley just before the 5 freeway.

The two-mile stretch is part of the so-called "Glendale Narrows," where an underground aquifer makes a concrete bottom impossible and sustains a wide variety of wildlife

Over four hours, the boaters saw black widow spiders, ospreys, blue herons, egrets, carp, crayfish, and very little trash. They did not see police or other law enforcement.

Most had a fabulous time though some quibbled with the federal government's recent decision to call the river "navigable" -- at least at late summer water levels.

Legendary photographer Gary Leonard was there to watch the LAPFD launch. These are some of his shots.

Launching at Red Car Park 2010-09-10-leonardriver1.jpg

Don't Forget the Cooler 2010-09-10-francis22.jpg

Time to Get Your Feet Wet 2010-09-10-redcarlaunch3v2.jpg

A Look Up River Through the Bridge 2010-09-10-alookuptheriver2.jpg

LA River and Pylons From Old Red Car Bridge 2010-09-10-wideathyperionbridge2.jpg

Getting Underway 2010-09-10-underhyperionbridge2.jpg

Brendan Nelson and Louie Brinker in the Brush 2010-09-10-bulrushesv2.jpg

Hyperion Bridge in Background 2010-09-10-flotillav2.jpg

Stretch of Channel Just North of Fletcher Avenue 2010-09-10-anotherwideupriverv2.jpg

Busting A Whitewater Move 2010-09-10-jeffrey2.jpg

Wow! 2010-09-10-lariverwonder2.jpg

LAPFD: William Mitchell, James Rojas, Bettina Boxall, Louie Brinker, Robert Wagner, Frances Roix, Elizabeth Bardsley, Brendan Nelson, Anthea Raymond, Jeff Winikow 2010-09-10-gettingready2.jpg

That's Right 2010-09-10-smile2.jpg