How recycling fishing line can save L.A. River birds

Black fishing line recycling tubes were installed along the L.A River. | William Preston Bowling/FoLAR

Black fishing line recycling tubes were installed along the L.A River. | William Preston Bowling/FoLAR

The death of a blue heron named Mr. Fred, which had become tangled in fishing line along the L.A. River, has prompted the creation of a program intended to save other birds from a similar fate.

The Friends of The Los Angeles River recently installed fishing line recycling tubes along the river in Atwater Village and Elysian Valley as part of its Fishing Line Recycling Program.  The group also launched an education program to teach anglers the risks used fishing lines pose to river and shore birds.

The opening of portions of the Los Angeles River to recreational uses – including fishing – during the summer months has attracted more anglers to fishing areas. But the remnants of fish left on used lines attract herons, egrets, cormorants and other larger birds, which can get tangled in lines disposed in trash cans and other places. The recycling tubes are designed to make it easy for anglers to throw away used lines but difficult for birds to reach.

“Fishing the Los Angeles River …. is about enjoying a shared experience for anglers and families, but we also must be good stewards and make sure it’s safe for everyone, including our wildlife,” said FoLAR Special Projects Manager William Preston Bowling  in a statement. “The fishing line recycling program does that by letting people easily and safely discard their fishing lines, so that we can all enjoy our River and protect our incredible river and shore birds and the lush environment here.”

The creation of Fishing Line Recycling Program was inspired by Mr. Fred, an injured blue heron that was rescued in December 2013 from the Elysian Valley stretch of the river. The bird had become injured after getting tangled in fishing line. An infection spread to its bones and, despite the rescue effort, the bird died.

With a grant from Trout Unlimited, FoLAR teamed up with Council District 13 and the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council to test the fishing line recycling tubes in Atwater Village, where they were installed at Dover Street and at Acresite Street. A third tube was installed in Elysian Valley at the FrogSpot, a riverside rest stop operated by FoLAR. The group is seeking to install more of the tubes near popular fishing spots.

The fishing line collected in the tubes will be used to create fish habitats.

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  1. Fishermen somehow don’t consider their lines and discarded gear as litter. Go to any lake and there’s tons of that crap lying around. I’m not sure why anyone thinks they’ll be more likely to shove it in a tube when they won’t even put it in a trashcan but hopefully they will.

  2. Much needed! Discarded line kills all sorts of aquatic life, fresh or salt. I pick it up along streams, clip it from brush — it is amazing and sad how many fisher folk just toss it.

  3. As kayakers on the river we’ve scooped up untold amounts of fishing line during our trips. The line can really be a problem for birds. We’ve been involved in rescues several times where birds were entangled in line. I think this is step in the right direction. Education and stewardship are the key to caring for our river…

    By the way the Rec Zone season was extended and we are LA River Kayak Safari are still running kayaking trips this weekend and until the end of September. There is no better was to cool off in a heat wave! LA River is the Eastside’s beach….http://lariverkayaksafari.org

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