Bringing the Kern River Back to Bakersfield

Bring Back the Kern is working to restore recreational flows to the Kern River in Bakersfield (cue Merle Haggard).

2 minute read

December 13, 2021, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

The Kern River passes through a steep river canyon filled with jagged rocks and surrounded by hills of golden grass.

The Kern River where it spills out of the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountains | Traveller70 / Shutterstock

Just to the east of Bakersfield, California the Kern River rushes through mountain canyons, pouring into Isabella Lake at flows that range widely with the seasons and year to year depending on the snowpack. Below the lake, consistent dam releases send water pounding down jagged piles of house sized boulders. Highway 178, clinging to the canyon above with a clear vision of the drama of motion and resistance below, is lined with signs warning about how many people have drowned in the river over the years.

By the time the river reaches Bakersfield, all the water is gone.

Ian James reports for the Los Angeles Times about a proposal to restore water to the Kern River in Bakersfield.

"Decades ago, the Kern flowed all the way through Bakersfield. But so much water has been appropriated and diverted in canals to farmland that the river has vanished in the city, leaving miles of dry riverbed," writes James. That could soon, if a group of residents campaigning to restore the river with enough water to supply a green corridor in the heart of the city and providing places to wade, kayak, and picnic on the banks.

"They’ve spoken at meetings of the state water board, collected photos of the water-filled Kern years ago, and organized a march along the riverbed, trudging nine miles on dry sand to drive home their message that water belongs in the river," according to James.

The group, Bring Back the Kern, recently launched an online exhibition called A River Remembered, which shows "photos of people wading and tubing in the river decades ago," explains James.

More on the opportunity—which includes a 2007 court ruling involving water rights and water used by the Kern Delta Water District—is included in the source article below.

Thursday, December 9, 2021 in Los Angeles Times

Aerial view of snowy single-family homes in suburban Long Island, New York

New York Governor Advances Housing Plan Amid Stiff Suburban Opposition

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ambitious proposal to create more housing has once again run into a brick wall of opposition in New York’s enormous suburbs, especially on Long Island. This year, however, the wall may have some cracks.

March 20, 2023 - Mark H. McNulty

Yellow on black "Expect Delays" traffic sign

A Serious Critique of Congestion Costs and Induced Vehicle Travel Impacts

Some highway advocates continue to claim that roadway expansions are justified to reduce traffic congestion. That's not what the research shows. It's time to stop obsessing over congestion and instead strive for efficient accessibility.

March 14, 2023 - Todd Litman

Empty parking garage at night with yellow lines marking spots and fluorescent lighting

Rethinking the Role of Parking in the American City

In cities big and small, the tide is turning against sprawling parking lots, car-centric development, and minimum parking mandates.

March 16, 2023 - The New York Times


Mapping Sidewalks for Improved Connectivity

A new tool uses aerial image recognition to map a city’s sidewalks and crosswalks. Its developers hope it will aid in creating a more comprehensive understanding of pedestrian networks and where improvements are needed.

March 22 - MIT News

A light rail train waits at the Downtown Long Beach station with a sign that reads “Long Beach” to declare its route to riders.

Long Beach Residents Oppose Proposed Homeless Services Hub Near Rail Terminus

L.A. Metro’s “end-of-the-line” policy forces people experiencing homeless off transit every night at the same time and location. A proposed hub would provide services a few stops before the end of the line in Long Beach.

March 22 - Long Beach Post

A hypothetical map of the state of Idaho, expanded by annexing a large portion fo Oregon. The map is emblazoned with the words “Greater Idaho.”

The Nation's Most Advanced Secessionist Movement

Legislation supporting the Greater Idaho Movement, which would annex over half of neighboring Oregon, has advanced in the Idaho legislature.

March 22 - FOX News

Planner II

City of Greenville

Planner I

City of Greenville

Rural Projects Coordinator (RARE AmeriCorps Member)

Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Program

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.