Birds love lagoon

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I am opposed to Phase II of Malibu Lagoon, as is San Fernando Valley Audubon Society. As it is planned, the lagoon’s great value for education and wildlife viewing will be greatly reduced and have little if any net benefit to wildlife, even if the great disruption during the period of construction is not considered.

Removal of the bridges will greatly reduce the current outstanding opportunities for bird watching and general observation of nature. It is a magnet for bird watchers, from Santa Monica Bay Audubon’s monthly walks, to local birders who visit individually or in small groups, to visitors from a large variety of other countries. The bridges do not harm wildlife in any manner that I am aware of, as they do not encourage people to walk into the low lands they connect. Ironically, early proposals for Phase II showed bridges going to “avian islands,” which birdwatchers pointed out was a preposterous idea.

Much of the proposed Phase II is predicated on the idea that the relatively upland areas with pickleweed and scattered saltbush plants is of inferior value. Actually that “inferior” habitat is where many of the rarest birds to visit the lagoon are seen. Water quality would not be improved significantly, if at all. The same water and pollution will continue to enter the lagoon. Encouraging water circulation in the fingers of the lagoon behind the three bridges leading toward the ocean will accomplish little if anything.

I certainly could support turning some of the former parking lot and picnic area into marshy habitat, so long as walkways are left in place so visitors can reliably reach the bridges and existing walkways. This is not to say that these areas have no value. For example, the rocky area that used to be a turf grass picnic area currently has a killdeer nest with four eggs being vigilantly guarded by parent birds, and many birds are found in the large sycamore trees and even in the dead alders lining the channel next to the picnic area. I suspect the brackish lagoon water was too saline for these trees once irrigation of the grass was eliminated.

Muriel Kotin