The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has certified the final environmental document for a project to restore the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve (BWER), the largest coastal wetland complex in Los Angeles County. The project will enhance and establish native coastal wetlands and upland habitat on 566 of the reserve’s 577 acres south of Marina del Rey and east of Playa del Rey, restoring ecological function to currently degraded wetlands and providing a critical buffer against the effects of sea level rise.
Summary of the approved project (PDF)
A more detailed project description is found below in the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) link. CDFW chose the most restorative alternative in the final EIR – with an important commitment to phasing the restoration work – because the land at BWER is degraded from a history of human impacts. Without this restoration existing native habitats will continue to degrade, and sea level rise will overcome the remaining portions of BWER that have functioning wetlands and could flood local roads more frequently, more severely and much sooner.
CDFW, in partnership with the State Coastal Conservancy and The Bay Foundation, has spent years working with the public and the scientific community envisioning a plan for the revitalization of BWER, which once encompassed an approximately 2,000-acre expanse of marshes, mud flats, salt pans and sand dunes that stretched from Playa del Rey to Venice and inland to the Baldwin Hills. Today, the reserve’s 577 acres are all that remains of the former wetlands.
CDFW will commence its restoration of BWER by starting the project’s initial two sequences which involve enhancing and restoring an approximate 100-acre degraded tidal, brackish, and freshwater wetland area in the south and southeast portion of the reserve for the benefit of wildlife and public enjoyment. These initial two project sequences involve removing and relocating an existing gas line and improving tidal circulation and freshwater flows (as analyzed in the EIR).
CDFW will continue working with the Los Angeles County Flood Control District in securing a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and completing a federal environmental review document. In addition, approvals from the Coastal Commission, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and possibly other agencies are required, and the timing of those approvals depends on the permitting agency’s process.
Notice of Availability (PDF)