In a first step toward restoring one of Southern California’s few remaining wetlands and opening it to the public, the state has approved spending $6.5 million for planning a massive restoration of the degraded Ballona Wetlands.
(In the plan) initial proposals call for spending $100 million to remove concrete levees and truck out tons of sediment dumped on the property, allowing water from Ballona Creek and the sea to flow into the wetlands. Bike paths would be built atop earthen flood-control berms on the reserve’s perimeter and public boardwalks would allow visitors access to the site without disturbing plants, birds and other wildlife.
“We have the potential at Ballona to restore this degraded and damaged habitat and return it to a beautiful, sustainable natural refuge for people and wildlife,” Luce said.
The vast coastal wetlands once spanned 2,000 acres at the mouth of Ballona Creek, covering much of what is now Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and Venice. Only a quarter remains today, much of it a dry, fenced-off expanse of brush that is littered with garbage in places, surrounded by high-rises and subdivisions and criss-crossed by congested boulevards.
Developers and environmental activists wrangled over the site for decades before the state agreed in 2003 to spend $139 million to acquire it as an ecological reserve.
via LA Times
And, nationally wetlands are still disappearing:
A national wetlands inventory released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that between 2004 and 2009, the lower 48 states lost a net average of 13,800 acres a year. That compared with a slight annual gain in wetlands during the previous six year-period.
“Wetlands are at a tipping point,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “While we have made great strides in conserving and restoring wetlands since the 1950s, when we were losing an area equal to half the size of Rhode Island each year, we remain on a downward trend that is alarming.”
via LA Times