Over the past few months, the Council for Watershed Health has worked with a group of students from UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability to create the foundation for a different kind of assessment tool for the Los Angeles River Watershed, a report card. At its core, an environmental report card is a tool to assess and communicate the health of a region or ecosystem via the evaluation of a selected set of indicators. The team of five seniors worked with CWH to complete their practicum project, Quantifying Watershed Health: A Case Study for the Los Angeles River, which provides a framework with which to assess and communicate the health of the Los Angeles River watershed.
To lay the foundations for the report card, the students participated in a semester long practicum under the guidance of Environmental Science Practicum Director, Noah Garrison, and in conjunction with CWH Senior Scientist, Yareli Sanchez. The goal of the report card was to examine the health of the LA River, not just from the traditional ecological standpoint, but including socioeconomic factors that affect the LA River and its surrounding communities as well.
CWH’s research and monitoring work, such as our Los Angeles River Watershed Monitoring Program (LARWMP), provided some of the data that helped the practicum team select and build environmental indicators. The LARWMP has helped develop a more holistic view of the LA River watershed through regular water quality monitoring and habitat assessments, and the report card framework produced by the UCLA team will help to present this key information to stakeholders in a more engaging way.
"Ultimately, communicating the conditions of the Los Angeles River is critical to the development of effective sustainable management practices and policy formation. Indeed, it is our hope that the final products of this practicum will serve as a foundation to assess the Los Angeles River Watershed as a whole in a way that can engage the public." Bryce Lee, UCLA Student.
Using innovative, science-based research projects such as these, CWH and its partners are improving people’s understanding of how healthy watersheds lead to healthy communities. By partnering with students, CWH is continuing its mission of advancing the sustainability of our rivers, streams and habitats, using education and partnership to engage and educate the next generation of stewards for our watersheds.