A state plan to restore the last 600 acres of the Ballona Wetlands is going ahead, even though environmental groups like the Sierra Club think it's a bad idea. The formerly huge wetlands in the Del Reyish area were destroyed over the years by megaprojects like Marina del Rey and Playa Vista. Yesterday, the Coastal Conservancy approved funding "for engineering, hydrologic analyses, geotechnical assessments and public access design" for the restoration plan, as well as for "data collection, technical review and coordination for the environmental impact analysis and permits for the restoration project that includes parts of the city of Los Angeles and unincorporated Los Angeles County," reports Culver City Patch. The Conservancy is working with other state groups--the California Department of Fish and Game, the State Lands Commission, and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission--on the project, which would help to finally open up more of the wetlands to the public (there are almost no public access spots now).
Shelley Luce of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission explains that the money means "we can move forward with the kind of detailed design work and engineering studies that we need in order to determine the best possible project for the Ballona Wetlands."
But the Sierra Club's Ballona Wetlands Restoration Committee wrote "a strongly worded four-page letter" opposing the funding, saying it's "not protective of the wildlife and ecological needs of that wildlife" and suggesting that the Conservancy "buy more adjacent land, secure the wetlands with fencing and improve its trails." The Ballona Institute and the Wetlands Defense Fund also endorsed the letter.
The Friends of the Ballona Wetlands said they supported the funding for studies, but disagree with the state plan and "favors maintaining eight acres of dunes habitat in the wetlands that would be lost in plans submitted by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission."
Meanwhile, the restoration is expected to take about ten years, but public access would come early on in the project. Image via Friends of Ballona Wetlands
· Coastal Conservancy Approves $6.5 Million for Ballona Wetlands Restoration Plans [Culver City Patch]