Ballona Wetlands

Lagoon Killers

By John Davis

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors are on a rampage. They want to wipe out the natural virtues of natural coastal environments, replacing them with sterile flood control projects. First, the County supported California State Parks as it went after Malibu Lagoon; surfer Athena N. Shlien witnessed it.

“As far as I can tell it looks like another sterilized version of nature, the lagoons at Zuma and Topanga have also had work done but the wildlife never seems to return as it once was or at least it will take several decades to recover… They ought to leave nature be and only use funds to acquire new land…do no harm!!!! ”

Like State Parks, the County Supervisors have established a pattern and practice of stealth advertising to market bad projects. This means they are representing something they are not really selling. They really want you to buy something else, without knowing about it, something you did not bargain for.
Their current target is our local Oxford Lagoon, adjacent to Washington Blvd.
In the case of Oxford the Supervisors disguised the public value of the Lagoon as it stood. The overstated lie is that it would be a better place.
The word “restoration” is bounced about by political types like a ball. The correct term for projects like these is “creation”. There is no restoration, whatsoever. It is all creation of an environment that was not there, but the making of something new.
The County paints a euphoric vision of lush native plants, walkways and lighting, with fences and places to observe wildlife, of course. But, they failed to fully measure the costs and necessary authorities.
Oxford Lagoon has been a place of quiet refuge. Home to a variety of wading birds, and a place for people who walked the silent path beneath the canopy of mature trees, the place was valued by neighbors. The black crown night herons’ voice could be heard drifting through the evening. This spring, colorful, delicate Monarch Butterflies were documented over-wintering here. They require a peaceful surrounding and very small things can disrupt their survival. A large bird, an Osprey, surprised everyone when it began perching high above the lagoon, seeking food in the cool waters below.
Then, Supervisor Knabe’s favored chainsaws leveled all of it, including the majestic raptors high perch.
Later that day, other local birds paddled around the lagoon confused and panicked, without shelter. The last tree, the tallest was left standing for a couple of days where the Osprey continued to perch, until after a California Coastal Commission meeting.
The Commissioners asked the County to at least keep that one tree. Within days, the County cut it too, demonstrating its utter disregard for the value of the existing environment, as if it was never there.
They said the trees were sick, so they had to chainsaw all of them. Or, that they were not native, ignoring the existing ecological value of such large stands. The monarch butterflies valued them enough to try using them to over-winter.
Oxford Lagoon was designated by the United States Congress as a bird sanctuary in partial compensation for the creation of a man-made boat harbor. U.S. Public Law 780, the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1954 as implemented by Congress, spells this out plainly. Douglas Fay, a local resident zeroed in on this important fact.
Yet the Supervisors, led by Don Knabe, continue to call it the Oxford Flood Control Basin. They have disregarded the will of the Congress, blatantly, and without repercussion. In fact, the County was required to deed all lands, easements, and rights of way to the United States, including Oxford Lagoon, but did not. The deed was never recorded with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, as required by federal law. It appears the County has been defrauding the United States for decades, and Oxford is only the most recent visible, and painful example.
Supervisor Knabe wants to please developers the county leases to in Marina del Rey. This is how he does it.
The public can expect traffic delays, jams and equipment moving on and off the site for months to come. As the County drains and dredges the lagoon, bulldozers will grade and change the area while belching smoke and clanking around on what used to be a peaceful public place.
Douglas Fay accurately predicts the County’s next move:

“It’s all propaganda = ongoing habitat loss and species extinction. Ballona is next.”

Photo by Jonathan CoffinAbove photo by: Jonathan Coffin