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March to bring awareness to Kern River

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Instead of seeing running water in the Kern River, bikers at The Park at Riverwalk get the view of a dry river bed for most of the year. A group of local residents would like to see that change. This photo was taken in October 2020.

A march to bring awareness to the Kern River will take place Saturday, Nov. 13 in the dry river bed through Bakersfield.

Local nonprofit Bring Back the Kern is organizing the protest march ahead of a hearing on the Kern River by the state Water Resources Control Board. That hearing will be held online Dec. 9. It is the first of what may be several phases to determine if there is any water available from a 2007 forfeiture of some water rights.

Though the state hearing will be very narrowly focused on whether that forfeiture created any “loose” water, Bring Back the Kern is hoping the Water Board will take notice of public efforts to get water back into the river.

“This march is intended to raise awareness about the extent of our dry river problem and instill hope that we can once again have a flowing river,” the group wrote in a press release about the march.

According to the release, there will be two marching distance options available:

Full river (9 miles) — starting at 8 a.m. at Panorama Park across from Greenlawn Cemetery, marchers will see firsthand the beauty of water in the river and the associated plant and wildlife it brings at Panorama Vista Preserve.

Marchers will then enter the dry river channel just west of Rocky Point Weir, where the river is diverted, and continue on in the river channel.

One drink and snack station will be provided midway through and lunch will be provided at Calloway Bridge for full distance marchers.

Last mile (1 mile) — starting at 1:30 p.m. adjacent to the bridge at Calloway Road, marchers will join the full distance marchers and finish the march in the river channel to The Park at River Walk.

Marchers are encouraged to dress for a day at the pool or beach to highlight the irony of our dry river (i.e. inner tubes, floaties).

Lois Henry is the CEO and editor of SJV Water, a nonprofit, independent online news publication dedicated to covering water issues in the San Joaquin Valley. She can be reached at lois.henry@sjvwater.org. The website is sjvwater.org.