Ballona Wetlands – 600 acres of Los Angeles coast will soon be restored

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

Sensitive and endangered species list for the Bolsa Chica Wetlands

Did you know that there are 22 sensitive and endangered species that rely on the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, California?

As of January 2011, that list includes 16 bird, 1 reptile, and 5 plant species. The full list below doesn’t include the 200+ other birds that call the wetlands home, but it does give you a sense of how important this place is.

Birds

  • Peregrine – (Falco peregrinus anatum) – recently delisted
  • White tailed kite – (Elanus leucurus) – California Fully Protected
  • Loggerhead Shrike – (Lanius ludovicianus) – California Species of Special Concern
  • California Gnatcatcher – (Polioptila californica californica) – Federal Threatened
  • Burrowing Owl – (Athene cunicularia) – California Species of Special Concern
  • Cooper’s Hawk – (Accipiter cooperii) – California Watch List
  • Merlin – (Falco columbarius) – California Watch List
  • Northern Harrier – (Circus cyaneus) – California Species of Special Concern
  • Osprey – (Pandion haliaetus) – California Watch List
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – (Accipiter striatus) – California Watch List
  • Northern Cardinal – (Cardinalis cardinalis) – California Watch List
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher – (Contopus cooperi) – California Species of Special Concern, USFWS Birds of Conservation Concern
  • Tricolored Blackbird – (Agelaius tricolor) – California Species of Special Concern, USFWS Birds of Conservation Concern
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird – (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) – California Species of Special Concern
  • Yellow Warbler – (Dendroica petechia brewsteri) – California Species of Special Concern
  • Yellow-breasted Chat – (Icteria virens) – California Species of Special Concern

Reptiles

  • Silvery Legless Lizard – (Anniella pulchra pulchra) – California Species of Special Concern

Plants

  • Southern tarplant – (Centromadia parryi ssp. Australis) – CNPS 1B.1
  • Southwestern spiny rush – (Juncus acutus ssp. Leopoldii) – CNPS 4.2
  • California box thorn – (Lycium californicum) – CNPS 4.2
  • Coast Woolly Heads – (Nemacaulis denudata var. denudata) – CNPS 1B.2
  • Woolly sea-blite – (Suaeda taxifolia) – CNPS 4.2

 

// Information provided from the California Department of Fish and Game – Lower Mesa Restoration Project

Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy

In 1985 a small group of concerned citizens set off on a mission to protect the last remaining wetlands in Huntington Beach, some 147 acres out of what used to be over 3,000.

Today, their dream is coming true as the Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy owns and has restored a majority of the land, some 100 acres from the Santa Ana River to the AES Power Plant.

The remaining pieces are a 44-acre parcel located between Newland and Beach Blvd, and a tiny triangle, some 7/10 an acre, sandwiched between the Huntington Waterfront Hilton and a new residential neighborhood. These, too, will soon be owned by the Conservancy.

Here is how that Newland Marsh looks now:

Dry, full of trash and non-native invasive plants

And, the restored marshes:

That's a Grey Heron in the center drinking some water (click pic to view large size).

The difference is clearly the water.

Why Wetlands?

A wetland is “the link between land and water and are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Some common names for different types of wetlands are swamp, marsh and bog.

Continue reading Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy