Study IDs Civic Center wetlands restoration

A long-awaited study that may affect future development in the Civic Center was released by UCLA scientists last week. The Draft Final Report to the California State Coastal Conservancy by Richard Ambrose and Antony Orme outlines options for resource enhancement and management of lower Malibu Creek and Lagoon.

At 450-plus pages (excluding appendix and bibliography), the report is replete with maps, graphs and charts, and begins with a history of tectonic and geomorphic evolution from the Cenozoic and Pleistocene ages. Whew!

Daunting for anyone with less than a Ph.D., even City Engineer Rick Morgan admitted he hadn’t read all of it — yet. But he intends to have digested it before the Malibu Creek Watershed Advisory Council meeting hosted by the city (7 p.m. April 20 at the Malibu Library). “That agenda will be more focused on strategy as to where to go with this,” he said.

“The pathogen element of the report didn’t do much to clarify the health issues for Malibu,” said Morgan. “But they do have, in the back, a matrix of restoration alternatives. Our task on the Watershed Council will be to build a consensus to pick and select from those alternatives.”

The council includes representatives of all stakeholders in the watershed, including resource and regulatory agencies, environmental groups and the jurisdictions of Malibu, Agoura, Calabasas, Westlake and Thousand Oaks. Morgan and Councilwoman Carolyn Van Horn represent Malibu on the council, which has been meeting monthly or bimonthly for six years. “It’s been a long effort,” Morgan said. “We’ve been working on this since the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Plan came out.

“We are poised to put something in motion now. We have the study. We have the recommended restoration alternatives. We just need to build support,” Morgan said. “They identified sites for wetland restoration in the Civic Center, and the city is encouraged by that part of the report.”

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In its executive summary, the report concludes, “There are no easy solutions to the problems of Malibu Lagoon. . . .Possible solutions to the problems thus caused are readily enumerated but not easily implemented.”

Morgan said that is the purpose of master planning. “You first figure out what you want, and then you figure out how to get it. That’s what the study helps us do.”

UCLA has tentatively scheduled a half-day presentation and workshop for April 30 at Malibu Community Center Auditorium.

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