Bolsa Chica Wetlands

Topics: Marsh, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Water Pages: 8 (2836 words) Published: September 6, 2006
Bolsa Chica Wetlands Restoration Project

The Bolsa Chica Wetlands is a reserve located near Huntington Beach, California, off the Pacific Coast Highway. The wetlands cover 1,200 acres and inhabit a variety of species, including Herons, Blacked Neck Stilts, and Black Skimmers. The Wetlands also inhabit a variety of unique plant life, lizards and ground squirrels. We will be discussing the importance of maintaining the Wetlands, for the sake of the environment and the species that inhabit the Wetlands, as some of the species are almost extinct and the battle that exists between the environmentalists and the Land Development Companies. There is currently a proposed residential development by Hearthside Homes Company that could critically harm the habitat while adding contaminated runoff, traffic and pollution problems associated with additional housing. There are currently eight state and federal agencies currently involved with the planning and environmental compliance processes necessary to design and obtain regulatory permits for the Restoration Project involving the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. This project will provide the best ecologically appropriate restoration for the wetland and all the combined species. History

The Wetlands Reserve was formed through an agreement between the Amigos de Bolsa Chica and the Signal Bolsa Corporation (Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve). The Bolsa Chica Conservancy is a non-profit organization that assists the Operation of the reserve. In 1978, new culverts were installed, and allowed the wetlands to be reconnected to the ocean, which in turn, brought back the salt marsh, as it had been before. In 1989 the reserves became a freshwater marsh when access to the ocean was dike off, and the salt water was not allowed to influx (Bolsa Chica, 2004). In 1992 the Koll Development Company proposed to build over 4,800 houses on the wetlands, and in response volunteers created The Bolsa Chica Land Trust to counter the proposed development. In 1993, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust group sought support from the Sierra Club to oppose developing the Wetlands. The Bolsa Chica Campaign was formed and volunteers met twice weekly to strategize against Koll Development. In 1996, the Sierra Club was involved in a lawsuit with the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, which challenged the county's decision for violating the California Coastal Act by approving the Koll Company's development of the housing for the Wetlands. In 1997, the State of California purchased 900 acres of wetland from Koll Development, and in 1999, the Land Trust won the Court Appeal decision that protected the Wetlands, termed the "the Bolsa Chica Decision," stating that real estate developers could not disturb the habitat for proceeding with their projects. Hearthside Homes in 2000, tried to create a plan to build 1,265 houses on the Wetlands Mesa, and the Coastal Commission voted that the 1,265 houses would be allowed to be built on the upper bench of the Mesa, but as a tradeoff the lower bench or Wetlands could not be touched. In 2002 Proposition 50 passed stating that the state purchases "no less than 100 acres of the Bolsa Chica Mesa." In 2004, State Lands Commission agreed to purchase 103 acres of the lower bench of the Wetlands with the contingency, that the Coastal Commission approves Heath side's plan to build 379 houses on reduced parcel of 65 acres on the upper bench. In 2005, 118 acre portion of Bolsa Chica was purchased by the State of California for $65 million with funds from Proposition 50. What are Wetlands?

"Generally, wetlands are lands where saturation with water is the dominant factor determining the nature of soil development and the types of plant and animal communities living in the soil and on its surface (California wetland, 1998)."In addition, the term wetlands means those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or...
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