Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two Restoration Projects, Not One...

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Here is Our Proposal for Restoring the Ballona Wetlands and Uplands:


June 17, 2009, from Rex Frankel, Director, Ballona Ecosystem Education Project

Right now, the local environmental community and the State's restoration planning team are on opposite sides: the State wants to dredge out most of Ballona and convert it into mostly wetlands. The local community wants all of the things they love about Ballona to be preserved, both the wetlands and the uplands, without the huge amount of bulldozing and habitat conversion.

The State's current plan is a recipe for many years of lawsuits. It makes a lot more sense to design a project that can win the support of the local community than push a plan that will lead to endless battling and bad feelings.


A PROPOSAL FOR RESOLVING THE CONTROVERSY:

1. Redesignate Ballona as Two Preserves: One for the Wetlands, and One for the Uplands

Right now, the Ballona Preserve is almost evenly split between low lying wetlands and higher elevation uplands. Both are vital components in a restored natural ecosystem.

Under this proposal, advocates of wetter wetlands can focus on bringing more water into the area south of Ballona Creek that is already wetland. That area can be restored and made much wetter without huge amounts of bulldozing, as the land is between 0 and 3 feet above sea level.

And with this compromise, the community's hiking trails and sagebrush and grasslands north of Ballona Creek that sit on the 15 foot tall uplands will be cleaned up and restored without the need for expensive earth-moving equipment.


2. Slowly remove the non-native weeds and replant native plants in both preserves

3. For the Wetlands Preserve south of Ballona Crek: Bring more water from the ocean into the Wetlands Preserve. Preserve the pickleweed and mudflats, the freshwater Centinela creek and eucalyptus grove, the far-west sand dune, and the former railroad track berm/trail, remains. Hopefully, the City will one day take back the portion of Cabora Road that the Gas Company has been allowed to fence off, so we will have a continuous 3 mile hiking and biking trail south of and overlooking the wetlands.

4. For the Uplands Preserve north of Ballona Creek: keep and enhance the wildflowers, sagebrush, dense laurel sumac thickets, loop hiking trails, Pacific Electric bridge platforms and sand dune, remnant of Ballona Creek and its saltbush, grasslands, and little league fields. Work with all users of the Uplands to sensitively design a new small water channel to expand the biodiversity of the Uplands without widescale habitat conversion.

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Map of Existing Habitat Conditions at the Ballona State Preserve

ORANGE SHADING: UPLAND HABITAT
BLUE SHADING: WETLANDS

(click on map to enlarge)

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For more photos showing how an Upland is different from a Wetland:
http://ballona-news.blogspot.com/2009/01/state-officials-back-off-from-over.html
WHAT AN UPLAND LOOKS LIKE:

Thickets of laurel sumac and loop hiking trails in the Uplands north of Ballona creek and the Playa Vista development and west of Lincoln Blvd.

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WHAT A WETLAND LOOKS LIKE:

The wettest part of Ballona, the tidal channel south of Ballona Creek, surrounded by pickleweed and mud flats

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