LA River kayaks

A group of kayakers prepare to enter the L.A. River in Elysian Valley during the first year the L.A. River Recreation Zone opened in 2013.

ELYSIAN VALLEY- Things will be a little different this year when the L.A. River opens for kayaking this Memorial Day. The construction of a new bridge will mean a  much shorter route through the river channel than in years past.

"Frankly we’re very concerned," said Steven Appleton, owner of L.A. River Kayak Safari, which has been leading kayaking tours down the river for the last six years. They can normally count on taking more than 1,000 people on tours each season. But this year, "it’s quite a lot less of a route," he said.

Kayaking is one of the several recreational activities -- including fishing and hiking -- that will be allowed this summer in the Elysian Valley River Recreation Zone

The kayaking run through Elysian Valley - usually 2.5 miles - is being modified to accommodate building the Taylor Yard Bridge - a $19 million bicycle/pedestrian span that will eventually cross the river between Elysian Valley and Cypress Park.

Though the LA Sanitation and Environment staff usually test water for bacteria twice a week at three locations in each Recreation Zone throughout the season, they will not be testing water at the Lower Elysian Valley Zone sampling site this year.

However, the exact length and path of the modified route this year have not been set, according to Dash Stolarz, director of Public Affairs for the Mountains Conservation & Recreation Authority. "We won't know the route for a few more days, probably the beginning of next week."

Update: It appears kayaking will only be allowed between Clearwater Street on the north and Newell Street on the south -- or less than half the usual distance, said Stolarz. The final route is still subject to approval by the Army Corps of Engineers.

In the meantime, the other segment of the recreation zone - the two-mile Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone - will operate as usual. Appleton said he may adapt to the arrangements this year by allowing boats to be rented out for the Sepulveda section.

"In Elysian Valley, it’s a bad idea to rent out the boats. It has too many turns," Appleton said. "But the valley is more flat. It’s better for renting."

Fishing will be still permitted during the recreation season. Swimming, as usual, will not.

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