The Santa Clara River
Is the last natural river in Los Angeles and the longest free-flowing river in Southern California; the only one that extends from the desert to the coast. As such, it is of critical biological importance, linking several major ecoregions (Coastal Plain, Coast Ranges, Transverse Ranges, Mojave Desert). A mere 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, the Santa Clara River and its tributaries are within one of the most rapidly urbanizing watersheds in the state.
The Santa Clara River, southern California's last truly dynamic big river boasts one of the largest watersheds in the South Coast region at 1,600 square miles. The 87-mile-long river rises on the northern slope of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County, traverses Ventura County, lined by riparian habitat featuring willow, mulefat, and cottonwood forests – habitats so rare that they still exist in only three to five percent of their original range in the western United States. These streamside habitats are home to many imperiled native birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.