Long Beach woman to document LA River in 7-day trek

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Tamara Lang, a Long Beach native, will embark on a bicycle and foot trek along the Los Angeles River next month, with the goal of showcasing the waterway and exploring communities living along it. “The idea is just to show what the river looks like to people,” Lang said. “It will show people about the ecosystem, and about the very affluent (people) to very poor. They’re all tied together through the river.”

Accompanying her is Glenn Lewis, who will photograph the journey from the Pacific Ocean to the tributaries of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The two leave on Feb. 5, and end their trek with the Rain Day Watershed Fair and Photography Exhibition back in Long Beach on Feb. 27. Lang and Lewis will spend three days biking the urban section, riding 15-25 miles per day and overnighting in the homes of area residents. Once they get to the San Gabriel mountains, they plan to hike for about 6-12 miles per day, camping at night. The entire 52-mile journey is scheduled to take seven days.

Ideally, Lang said she hopes to raise public awareness of the watershed through their narratives and documentation.

“It’s interesting,” Lang said. “It’s a channel, concrete and land. Not really a space you see as a river.”

She said the idea came to her while she was working at the Aquarium of the Pacific in 2008. She added growing up in Long Beach gave her a natural fascination with marine life.

“The ocean was where anything wild was,” Lang said, who eventually became a lifeguard in Sunset Beach. “We went to the ocean all of the time.”

Lang moved to South Korea — one of her many travels — in 2013 to teach English. While there, she discovered the haenyeo, or “sea women” who dive in the Korean province of Jeju. The women are usually in their 60s, she said, have an independent spirit and dive 10 to 15 meters.

It’s a tradition dating to the 1600s, she added, when there was more of a matriarchal culture.

“I ended up studying with them,” Lang said. “We dove for urchins.”

After that trip, Lang said she decided to put her river trek into action, and began planning.

Lang returned to Long Beach in 2015 and now is a part-time deckhand for a whale watching boat. She’s petitioned for funding and publicity of the Feb. 27 event since then. Some money she receives from the watershed educational campaign will go to the Friends of the Los Angeles River, she said, but most will go toward putting on events and educational material.

The fair will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 27 at Marina Vista Park, 5355 E. Eliot St.

The photography show will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the United States Sailing Center, 5489 E. Ocean Blvd.

To donate, email Lang at tamannlang@gmail.com. She said her goal is to have between $1,000 and $1,500.

“The more funds we raise, the more we will be able to spend on educational materials for a higher-quality education experience,” Lang said.

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