“…USEPA has determined that all wetland habitats within the 626 acres of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve are impaired.”

-USEPA,  March 2012

Click here for other examples of successful California wetland restoration projects.

Why Do We Need to Do Something?

More than a century of abuse and neglect by humans has severely damaged the Ballona Wetlands. Natural wetlands were obliterated when tons of dirt were dug up to build Marina del Rey and dumped onto the Ballona Wetlands, creating an unnatural layer of dirt up to 25 feet thick on top of the actual wetlands. Ballona Creek was straightened and paved into a concrete channel, back when people thought that was a solution to flooding. As a result, most native plants and animals were forced out and invasive weeds have taken over more than half the Reserve. Chain-link fences keep the public out and provide a haven for illegal uses that further endanger the wildlife still trying to eke out an existence in this once-thriving estuary.

Undoing some of the damage at Ballona Wetlands would bring back plants, birds, and other wildlife.  Possibilities range from removing weeds and fixing fences, all the way to re-creating salt marshes and a meandering creek to attract the frogs, fishes, birds and wildlife that call a healthy wetlands home. A restored Ballona Wetlands could be a refuge for thousands of migratory birds and an important nursery for baby halibut, oysters, and other fish and shellfish

The need for action at the Ballona Wetlands is also a Federally recognized issue. In 2012, a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) was adopted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to address the sediment and exotic vegetation impairments by setting targets to restore a diversity of healthy wetland habitats. The goals outlined in the TMDL are to eliminate the presence of invasive exotic vegetation and ensure that water quality standards are met within the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.

Existing Conditions of the Uplands Section (Area C) of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve

Why Does Los Angeles Need a Healthy Ballona?

A healthy Ballona wetlands could also protect our coastal communities from floods and rising sea levels. Native vegetation would improve regional air and water quality and the natural build-up of soils and organic matter would efficiently store carbon, helping to combat climate change. See many more reasons why wetlands conservation matters below.

Millions of birds fly along the Pacific flyway, which is a roughly 7,500-mile migratory route extending from the southern tip of South America to northern Alaska. Some birds may fly as much as 2,000 miles in two days without rest. Wetlands provide refuge, food, a place to bathe and recharge for the long journey.
Ballona’s estuaries shelter young fish species from many predators and the rough, open ocean.
Organisms in the mud, silt, and plants help to “digest” and break down heavy metals and toxins from urban runoff, thus purifying and cleansing the water that lets out into the Santa Monica Bay.
The wetlands act as a sponge that absorbs large amounts of water. This greatly reduces the chance of flooding for nearby properties.
The wetlands are a source of community involvement in education and restoration, a part of our cultural history, and a great way to meet people who share a passion for conservation and stewardship of the ecosystem we all share.
For many plants and animals, the Ballona Wetlands are the only place in the vast urban spread of Los Angeles in which they can survive. Their survival is threatened if the wetlands continue to degrade.
In a place where vast, open green spaces are increasingly rare, the wetlands offer a spot of nature and rejuvenation in the midst of an urban hardscape.
Phytoplankton (plant plankton) are microscopic plants that live in water. These tiny life forms are the foundation of aquatic food chains. Phytoplankton also produce about half of the planet’s oxygen.
About one cubic foot of healthy estuarine (coastal wetland) mud contains hundreds of thousands of living organisms, making an estuary a very abundant foundation for life on our planet.