March 24, 2011
Restoration efforts to return the Los Cerritos Wetlands into a functioning wetland can now begin on 166 acres of wetland property
The Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) acquired approximately 100 acres of the Hellman Ranch Property in Seal Beach on December 27, 2010 in an effort to protect and restore what is left of the Los Cerritos wetlands. This land has been a source of conflict for decades between Hellman Properties LLC., who wants to develop the land and a network of activists, agencies and members of the surrounding communities who want to restore it. The tireless efforts by the LCWA coupled with the wetlands deed restriction placed on the property by the California Coastal Commission and funding from the California Wildlife Conservation board have led to victory for those who wish to restore this critical landscape.
In addition to the recent 100 acre victory (Phase 2 property), 66 acres have already been acquired through a successful partnership between the LCWA and Signal Hill Petroleum (Phase 1 property) for restoration purposes. The San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy has authorized $450,000 to initiate restoration planning for all the publicly owned properties, which include Long Beach Marketplace Marsh and LCWA Phase 1 and 2 Properties. These acquisitions and subsequent restoration efforts are critical because tidal wetlands serve as bird and wildlife sanctuaries, buffers to storm damage, critical habitats for juvenile fish, and clean the ocean-bound fresh water of urban contaminants. Due to extensive urban development, only 490 acres of the 2,400 acres of the Alamitos Bay wetlands that existed as late as the 1920’s remain.
“Over 170 acres of Los Cerritos Wetlands is in the public trust through the LCWA and will eventually be restored into a wildlife sanctuary and recreation hub along the San Gabriel River. These types of conservation land acquisitions will help shape the eco-conscious culture of our local urban communities and provide an invaluable natural classroom for generations,” said Eric Zahn of Tidal Influence, a consultant for the LCWA.
Restoring this wilderness gem will be a long and grueling journey. It will take several years of planning and fundraising efforts, but dedication and hard work on the part of the LCWA and its partner organizations have made it possible.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is a proud conservation partner with the Los Cerritos Wetlands. They conduct volunteer cleanup and restoration sessions on the first Saturday of each month where volunteers pick up trash and debris, plant native plants, gather and plant seeds, and hand out educational materials about the wetlands. After the rains last month, volunteers picked up 69 pounds of trash in about 20 minutes and planted 35 plants. These events are open to the public. For more information on the cleanups and restoration efforts and how you can make a difference, visit lcwstewards.org.