Amigos de los Ríos, the Emerald Necklace

Emerald Necklace Forest to Ocean Expanded Vision Plan

Courtesy of Amigos de los Rios

Emerald Necklace Forest to Ocean Expanded Vision Plan

No! It’s not what you’re thinking!

It’s not something you can wear. In fact, it is not even a necklace.

In 2005, Amigos de los Ríos introduced the initial Emerald Necklace Vision Plan, marking a complicated plan for the advancement of a 17-mile loop of beautiful multi-benefit parks and greenways connecting ten cities and nearly 500,000 residents along the Río Hondo and San Gabriel River watershed areas located in East Los Angeles County. According to the Watershed Conservation Authority, the Emerald Necklace network consists of parks, greenways, and trails.

Here’s the history: Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. was a pioneer in the field of landscaping and is best known for his park designs in Central New York. The Emerald Necklace park design by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and a 1929 model proposed by brothers John Charles and Frederick Law Jr. Olmsted, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, heavily inspired by the Olmsted Bartholomew Project are both designed for the Los Angeles area.

Before the LA River became what we know it as today, the plan of the Emerald Necklace, unfortunately, paved the way for literal concrete to be placed…in its place. The Emerald Necklace plan sought to be a system of parks and bike paths flooded with greenery (no pun intended).

The Emerald Necklace is a joint effort between city agencies and organizations working to restore native habitat along the river, while also providing usable green space for people living in surrounding neighborhoods.

In 2008, Amigos de los Ríos introduced an Expanded Plan, compiling existing plans and data, identifying best practices, and outlining collaborative priorities for further expansion and development of the Necklace. These included increasing tree canopy and providing unincorporated neighborhoods with access to trails and other features. In 2013, Amigos de los Ríos received a $10,000 EPA Urban Waters Small Grant to plant trees and native plants along the San Gabriel River. The organization also hosted weekly workshops, volunteer projects, and other community outreach in the East County of Los Angeles. As part of the Urban Waters Grant, Amigos de los Rios focused on an area consisting of his five schools, four parks, and recreational trails. The area’s riverside green space connects El Monte, South Gate, Maywood, and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles’ East County. Today, the Emerald Necklace continues to be one of California’s greatest ideas.