Lagoon to benefit

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On October 13, the California Coastal Commission approved a coastal development permit for the Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project. This was the last permit needed by State Parks to go ahead with their plan to re-contour the tidal channels of the lagoon and replace invasive, exotic plant species with native species that benefit local birds and wildlife. Many local residents, environmental groups, wetlands experts and agencies who participated in scientific studies and restoration design work over the last decade are excited and inspired by the restoration plan.

At the hearing, there were two hours of presentations and public comments. State Parks staff and their design consultants showed clearly how the plan will improve water circulation and also how much more accessible and usable the lagoon will be for school groups and other users.

Scientists from the Lagoon Technical Advisory Committee presented data that show how impaired the lagoon is. They left no doubt that the plants and animals are much worse off here than in other coastal lagoons in Southern California, and that better water circulation will help those biological communities enormously.

Other speakers focused on the regional importance of Malibu Lagoon (because there are so few wetlands left), the water quality aspects of the project, and how this restoration fits in with long- and short-term environmental priorities in the area, as developed through public groups like the Lagoon Task Force and the Malibu Watershed Advisory Council.

The Coastal Commission approved the permit with no added conditions, which indicates how thorough the project team was in preparing the permit. The restoration plan already included many protections for existing wildlife, water quality at Surfrider beach, and neighboring residents. The Coastal Commission staff was also very impressive with their understanding of the project and the science behind it.

The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission is very proud of the transparent and inclusive public process, led by State Parks, the Coastal Conservancy and Heal the Bay, to develop this project. We commend the Coastal Commission for listening to the public who conceived the plan and the technical experts who did the detailed design. The renovated parking lot at the lagoon was the first phase of the restoration, and is a shining example of good design for humans and the environment. It is a prelude of how gorgeous and inviting the Lagoon will be when the restoration work is done.

The lagoon is a precious resource and worthy of the scrutiny that the restoration plan received in recent weeks. We look forward to many generations enjoying and benefiting from a healthy and vibrant Malibu Lagoon.

Shelley Luce, executive director

Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission