The Ritz Herald
Burrowing owl at Ballona Wetlands. This owl's home should not be destroyed. © Jonathan Coffin

California Governor Urged to Adopt Alternative to Bulldozing Ballona Wetlands

Restoration Not Destruction

Published on December 21, 2020

An alliance of environmentalists, conservationists, biologists and Los Angeles neighbors urge Governor Gavin Newsom not to take a wrecking ball to LA’s last coastal wetlands. Appalled over a controversial plan to bulldoze the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, Defend Ballona Wetlands proposes an alternative plan that will achieve the stated goals of genuine “restoration” and “public access” without the horrific destruction proposed in the original plan.

The Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa del Rey is home to 1,700 species of wildlife and flora, including threatened and endangered species. Owls, egrets, foxes, skunks, pelicans, herons and many other species call it home. Ballona is a crucial landing spot for migratory birds.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has proposed a plan (Options, 1, 2, and 3) that would bulldoze over most of this fragile ecological reserve, about 640 acres or a square mile. It would cost 250 million public dollars and last more than nine years. This plan is falsely described as a restoration. In fact, if carried out, the department would obliterate the very animal and plant species it is charged to protect.

A Kinder Option: Gentle Restoration, Option 4

Opponents of this counterfeit restoration are now offering a detailed 20-point alternative plan. This Gentle Restoration plan, which would fall under Option 4, would avoid the extermination of fragile wildlife at a time when wildfires and developments are destroying habitats across California. The plan would offer mindful public access and foster native species of wildlife and plants.

Instead of a new 300-car parking structure, which is in the bulldozing plan, the Gentle Restoration would make effective use of many existing public parking lots near the Ballona Wetlands.

The alternative plan would: upgrade existing wetlands trails, create educational tours with kiosks showing the rich history of the indigenous people, create trash removal and beautification teams, create tree and plant nurseries, and organize teams of specialists to foster support for endangered species and recover additional species that were historically at Ballona.

Governor Newsom has called for nature-based solutions in the midst of a climate crisis. The Gentle Restoration, Option 4, is that nature-based solution, at a fraction of the cost. Wrecking balls are 20th century. Mindful public access and gentle restoration is the 21st century solution.

Environmental Reporter