Friends of the Los Angeles River


The Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) protects and restores the natural and historic heritage of the Los Angeles River and its riparian habitat through inclusive planning, education and wise stewardship. Once home to steelhead and grizzlies, the Los Angeles River meandered through wetlands, marshes, willow, alder and sycamore, provided desperately needed water to the region.

When the Army Corps of Engineers initiated a flood control project in the late 1930s, they began the process of paving 80% of the River, creating the world’s largest storm drain. FoLAR is working to restore the L.A. River’s natural habitat and to develop recreational and commuter bikeways and horse trails along the riverbanks as well as places for kayaking.

FoLAR has seen remarkable victories. Here are just a few:

Fighting the Los Angeles County Drainage Area, which proposed building walls 2-8 feet high along the last twelve miles of the River to increase flood protection. FoLAR’s efforts were key to modifying the original plans and led to the creation of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, a principal forum for the discussion of the Rivers’ future.

  • Successfully mobilizing efforts to create a community park at the Cornfield Yards--a 30-acre parcel of land between Chinatown and the Los Angeles River, which had been slated for warehouse development. The Chinatown Yard Alliance brought together diverse stakeholders including FoLAR, the Sierra Club, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Concerned Citizens of South Central LA, Mothers of East Los Angeles, and the Latino Urban Forum.

  • Winning the battle to create a State Park at Taylor Yard, a 220+ acre former railroad yard with more than 2 miles of living waterfront.

FoLAR has many opportunities for volunteers, including participation in the annual The Great LA River Cleanup, and in regular clean up activities along the River and its park. In addition, volunteers can engage in advocacy activities and work as tour guides and educators.

See Also: 


Lewis MacAdams
Co-Founder & President

Shelly Backlar
Executive Director

Highland Park

Area Served:
Greater Los Angeles

# of Employees:

(donations + earned income)

Guidestar Report