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Richard Lillard, one of Los Angeles' first great ecologists

Richard Lillard, one of Los Angeles' first great ecologists, had a strong influence on the creation of the nonprofit Friends of the Los Angeles River. Mr. Lillard was the author of Eden in Jeopardy, Man's Prodigal Meddling with his Environment: the Southern California Experience (1966). One of his quotes, "who wrote "The main purpose of flood control is to waste water."

Lillard also helped lead the fight against converting Mulholland Drive into a freeway. He was also one of the first to propose a regional park in the Santa Monica Mountains to permanently preserve open space.

Lillard has been honored with an outdoor classroom along the Los Angeles River named in his honor. Located on the Los Angeles County flood plain along the Los Angeles River between Coldwater Canyon and Fulton Avenue in Studio City, the Richard Lillard Outdoor Classroom enhances the natural beauty of the Los Angeles River. This shady walking park, which includes interpretive displays, an outdoor amphitheater, and native riparian landscaping, spans several blocks of the river’s edge.

Richard Lillard Outdoor Classroom

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority was instrumental in attracting funding for the outdoor classroom project. The Lillard Outdoor Classroom includes restoration of the natural areas, interpretive displays, an outdoor amphitheater, native riparian landscaping, and irrigation.

It was the Village Gardeners—who have been committed to maintaining the flood plain for many years—who originally envisioned the parkland potential of the easement next to the river. Local schools, including nearby Dixie Canyon Elementary, will now be able to use the facility to learn about the natural history and ecology of the river.

In the spirit of Lillard's legacy of ecological leadership, The River Project is continuing the work of preserving the Los Angeles River as habitat. If you'd like to learn more about restoration of the Los Angeles River, see The River Project.The River Project has found that communities are eager to participate in the upkeep of the river greenway when they have played a role in their development. They are developing Native River Gardeners, a program designed to educate the public about the value of our native plant communities and build the capacity of local residents to participate in the ongoing maintenance and stewardship of the River Greenway. With start-up funding from the California Native Plant Society and the local Neighborhood Council, The River Project is developing a program that will partner with beautification groups and students to provide ongoing maintenance and expanding educational opportunities for local neighborhoods.