Wetland Restoration Success Stories

Construction of cities, building levees, dumping dirt, and channelizing rivers have seriously damaged the wetlands of California.  The Los Angeles region, in particular, has lost over 95% of its historic coastal marshes.  In addition to the physical destruction of wetlands, non-native and invasive species have taken over some former wetlands, further impacting the plants and animals that rely on these habitats.

Fortunately, there are many examples of successful wetland restoration projects across California and around the world.  These projects usually involve un-doing past human damage, removing dirt dumped on a former wetland or reconnecting the land to the ocean, bringing back ecological functions to the wetland.  Nature is resilient – when natural habitats are restored, plants and animals also return.

Among the many examples of beautiful, functioning, restored salt marsh systems in southern California are Carpinteria Salt Marsh, Tijuana Estuary (above photo), Malibu Lagoon, Huntington Beach Wetlands, San Dieguito Lagoon and South San Diego Bay.  There are also many wetland restoration projects in San Francisco Bay, including the Hamilton Wetlands, Napa Marsh, Sonoma Baylands, Breuner Marsh and the South San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds.  Locally, since the completion of the Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project in summer 2013, there have been discoveries of expanded activity by endangered species, increased water circulation, improved water quality, and new foraging areas for birds and fish in places that were previously ‘dead zones’.

Malibu restorationMalibu Lagoon during restoration (June 2012)

Malibu_post_restorationMalibu Lagoon post-restoration (October 2014)