Time for a soapbox post!
I know this is completely irrelevant to anything I even tumble about, but I’m ready to punch the &*^*@!@ radio in my car every time I hear a story about the plans to “destroy” Malibu Lagoon.
A little background info: there’s an ongoing war in coastal Los Angeles regarding the impending restoration of Malibu Lagoon. The project is led by California State Parks and has been signed off on by Heal the Bay and Surfrider, two of the largest environmental advocacy groups in southern California. However, they are facing strong local opposition from groups like the Wetlands Defense Fund and local homeowner’s associations.
Let me put this into perspective for you as an environmental scientist who has worked in this lagoon and others like it for years. This is a hydrologically NON-FUNCTIONAL lagoon. Like many in the area, it’s been inundated with sediment by various construction projects since PCH was put through in the early twentieth century. As a result, the lagoon is too small/shallow to support the native wildlife it once did. It’s become highly anoxic and does not flush and cleanse itself as it should naturally.
Here’s a picture of me sampling the lagoon. I have to wear waders because the stagnation in the lagoon results in accumulation/growth of pathogens. I’m smiling because I’m not going to get MRSA- that’s another story.
All I hear on the news and radio when they interview people opposing this project is “the wildlife is so pretty the way it is now” or “but its nesting season!”
Yes, there are currently plants living in the lagoon. Yes, there are currently birds and fish living in the lagoon. Are they pretty? Sure. Are they healthy and flourishing? Not as much as they should be. Are they native? Not necessarily. Are they all going to die horrible deaths and never come back ever again? No. The whole point of this project is to restore the lagoon to its natural state so that native wildlife can flourish like they did a century ago. I strongly suspect that 99% of the people opposing this “terrible project” don’t know that steelhead trout, the only anadromous species native to southern California, has been basically eradicated from the lower Malibu Creek watershed due to poor water conditions and decreased tidal connectivity with the ocean during crucial times. Guess what- this project wants to open the creek up again to these trout. Oh the horror! They probably also don’t know that there’s a serious problem right now with non-native New Zealand mud snails. They outcompete native invertebrates and essentially take over the entire watershed. Uh-oh… this project wants to restore the lagoon and put this invasive species at a serious disadvantage. But nooooo… all the cute little whorly shelled snails will die!
I could go on for hours, but it basically boils down to the fact that people who have no scientific expertise have no business making any kind of statements about the “negative impacts” on the wildlife a restoration project that has been in the works for more than 15 years.