Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Ballona Wetlands

Happy #WorldWetlandsDay!

The Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve has the potential to be the most special wildlife area in Los Angeles – a rare remnant of the vast plain of marshes that once covered much of the LA basin. But the ecosystem is severely degraded, and getting worse. Much of the current Reserve is dried out and choked with non-native weeds. In fact, most of the almost 600-acre Ballona Wetlands Reserve doesn’t even qualify as a wetland anymore. Plus, only a tiny sliver of this ecological reserve is open to the public, even though it’s on state-owned land, right in the heart of LA’s westside, between Marina Del Rey and LAX.

Planning to restore the Wetlands and open them to the public has been underway for 17 years. Recently, that plan took a big step forward: after years of analysis, design, community meetings and environmental review, the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was certified by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in December 2020. Now this important project can move towards implementation.

Even better news – CDFW selected Alternative 1, the most robust of the possible restoration designs for Ballona. Alt 1 provides the most habitat for wildlife, the greatest amount of walking and biking trails, and the maximum climate resilience. It is a project truly worthy of this special and rare opportunity for urban wetland restoration in LA. 

Now the Army Corps of Engineers will prepare its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a process that should take about two years. This is a great opportunity for community input on project design. Heal the Bay will be reaching out for your thoughts and comments as the project proceeds. 

More Detail on the Project

Alt 1 will remove the concrete stream banks that separate the former wetlands from Ballona Creek. It will create a healthy, functioning estuary where fresh water from the creek mixes with salt water from the tides of the Pacific Ocean. It will create habitat for fish and migrating birds, educational opportunities for students, and many miles of trails for people to explore.

Ballona Wetlands Restoration Plan

Heal the Bay and our partners have been involved in every step of the project, providing expert input on wetlands ecology and restoration principles, engaging the public, and advocating for restoration. The Steering Committee of the Wetlands Restoration Principles Coalition (WRP) supports Alt 1 for many reasons:

  • Alt 1 removes the most fill and concrete, and creates the most habitat, public access, and sea level rise resilience.
  • Alt 1 has more trails than any other alternative. It will create of 3.6 miles of walking + biking paths, as well as 5.5 miles of pedestrian-only trails and ADA-compliant elevated boardwalks. 
  • Alt 1 will be an asset to communities across LA County in support of public health and access to nature, and a prized jewel of the LA County coast.
  • Alt 1 provides parkland in Westchester, Playa del Rey, and the LAX neighborhoods. They are the most park-poor neighborhoods of the westside, with only 15% of the population within walking distance of a park (LA County Park Needs Assessment).
  • Alt 1 makes us more climate-resilient, by absorbing decades of sea level rise, restoring ecosystem function to capture Blue Carbon, and ensures safety of neighboring communities from flooding. Alt 1 maintains salt marsh and other habitats through 3.5 feet of sea level rise.
  • Alt 1 provides the greatest water quality and habitat benefits, by increasing tidal flushing and creating and restoring approximately 200 acres of marsh and salt pan habitat. 

The Ballona Wetlands Restoration is a generational opportunity to recover this unique Los Angeles ecological gem, and open it to the public for all to enjoy. Show your support for this project by adding your name to our coalition’s Ballona Wetlands Restoration Support Letter here:

Sign Ballona Support Letter

Check back for updates, there’s more to come on Ballona! 


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After months of thorough reading, analysis and discussion, Heal the Bay and our fellow Wetlands Coalition members this week submitted formal written comments on the Ballona Wetlands restoration project. Heal the Bay strongly supports Alternative 1, a plan that would reconnect land and sea, create the most wetland habitats and provide ample trails and overlooks for all to use.

You might remember that back in September, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released much anticipated (and long delayed) plans for the restoration of the beleaguered Ballona Wetlands, the nearly 600-acre ecological reserve near Playa del Rey.

The Ballona Wetlands are the largest remaining wetlands in L.A. County and have suffered decades of neglect and abuse. The restoration plans presented three options (along with a no-project or do-nothing alternative) to improve the damaged and degraded wetlands.

The restoration proposals focus on a few major desired outcomes: reconnecting the wetlands to the sea, enhancing habitat for wildlife and creating more public access.

To do this, the options ranged from taking out nearly all concrete channels from the reserve and removing millions of cubic yards of dumped fill (related to the building of nearby Marina del Rey decades ago), to leaving concrete flood channels in place and making smaller changes.

When the agencies released the draft Environmental Impact Report/Study, interested stakeholders and the public had 60 days to review the plans and submit comments on them in writing and in person at a Nov. 8 public hearing.  The lead agencies wisely extended the review period to Feb. 5. The move gave the public more time to understand and digest the lengthy and technical document, which provided a thorough, science-based analysis of current conditions and potential projects.

So, that brings us to this past Monday when the public comment period ended and we hit the send button, crystallizing months of hard work in a single moment.

Heal the Bay enthusiastically supports Alternative 1, the option that best achieves the goals set forth by the state of California, which include among others:

  • to restore, enhance, and create estuarine and associated habitats
  • to establish natural processes and functions that support estuarine and associated habitats
  • to develop and enhance wildlife-dependent uses and secondary compatible on-site public access for recreation and educational activities.

Source: – This Alternative 1 rendering may not be representative of the final plans.

Alternative 1 best addresses the degradation that the Wetlands have suffered by removing the most fill, removing the most concrete along Ballona Creek, and by restoring, creating, and enhancing the greatest amount of tidal salt marsh habitat.

Alternative 1 also creates the greatest local resiliency to climate change and sea level rise while providing the greatest level and quality of public access.

Alternative 1 is composed of two phases. The first phase will create a naturalized creek. The second phase establishes even more natural tidal flow and connections between the land and sea. These proposed restoration activities will result in wetlands that are the most self-sustaining and require the least amount of on-going maintenance, providing benefits for wildlife and people.

We submitted comments individually and also with our Coalition Steering Committee (made up of Friends of Ballona Wetlands, L.A. Waterkeeper, Surfrider Foundation South Bay Chapter, and the Trust for Public Land).

Our Coalition Steering Committee came to a consensus to support Phase 1 of this plan with some modifications. The group wants to see that the state-endangered Belding’s savannah sparrow bird is protected, that public access paths be increased in certain areas and restricted in sensitive areas, and that additional information about proposed parking lots be included in the final document.

We came to this consensus through many meetings filled with hard work, technical analysis, and long discussions over the last four months. It was not always easy and we didn’t agree on every small detail but our overarching positions were always aligned. We followed our nine Principles of Wetland Restoration, which prioritize ecosystem function, scientific basis, resiliency, appropriate scale, and ecological balance.

Heal the Bay and L.A. Waterkeeper also supported Phase 2 of Alternative 1, which removes more concrete and tide gates along the Creek.

Now, the lead agencies have the task of reviewing and responding to all the comments they have received. The comments and responses will be made public through the Final EIR/S, which we hope to see within a year’s time.

The Final EIR/S will have a chosen Alternative and at that point, funding and permits can be obtained and the project can get started at long last. We still have a lot of work ahead of us and we are committed to advocating and fighting for the robust restoration of Ballona Wetlands so they are healthy, functioning and open to all Angelenos.

THANK YOU to all who joined us AND our partners at the Ballona Wetlands over the last four months and who have engaged and advocated for the restoration of this unique and precious resource. Stay tuned for ways to get involved and ensure that the wetlands get the help they need.

Read our Heal the Bay’s comment letter and our joint Coalition comment letter.


Heal the Bay Year In Review 2017


It’s been a hot year, but these 7 memories helped us keep our cool.


7. Marching for Science, NOT Silence.
Fighting Federal rollbacks with 50,000 Angelenos. Watch Facebook LIVE video >

(Photo Credit: Austin Francalancia)


6. Skipping the Straw.
Empowering local business patrons to reduce plastic pollution in our seas. See campaign >

Plastic Free


5. Protecting the Pacific Seahorse.
Caring for local animals and willdlife at our S.M. Pier Aquarium. Explore our Aquarium >

Pacific Seahorse


4. Changing the Course of the L.A. River.
Expanding the River Report Card to protect public health and habitats. View the River Report Card >


3. Championing Community Cleanups.
Leading 37,000+ volunteers to remove 418,000+ trash and debris items. Sign up for a 2018 cleanup >

Los Angeles Beach Cleanup


2. Bringing Back Ballona.
Advocating for the robust restoration of L.A.’s last remaining large wetland. Get the latest update >


1. YOU!
Your voice. Your time. Your energy. Your contribution. Thank YOU.

We want to make new memories and powerful change next year. But, we can’t do it without the support of ocean lovers like you.

Year in Review Infographics

Will you make your tax deductible Year-End Gift today?
(If you’ve already given this season, thank you.)

Make Your Year-End Gift

Bay lovers, here’s your one big chance to make your voice heard about the planned restoration of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa del Rey.

As we’ve been telling you, this highly degraded ecosystem is one of the few remaining coastal wetlands left in greater L.A. It needs some TLC – a lot of it, actually.

Even if you don’t live near the Reserve, you should care deeply about its future. Wetlands are incredibly important for water quality, flood control and open space in our increasingly urbanized region.

Heal the Bay staff and the other members of our Wetlands Principles Coalition will attend a public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 8 to discuss various alternatives for bringing this area back to full life. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife “CDFW” will be holding its only scheduled meeting to provide an overview of various restoration alternatives and gather public input.

In September, the CDFW and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft Environmental Impact Report/Study for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. The public comment period has been extended to Feb. 5.

The Ballona Wetlands are highly degraded from landfill, are too high in elevation and lack the critical interactions between land and water. In addition, more than half the Wetlands Reserve has been taken over by non-native invasive plants, reducing economic, ecological, and social value.

Bring Back Ballona Wetlands _MG_8315 Ballona Wetlands Ballona Wetlands _MG_8212 ballona creek bike path NBIMG_9191 NBIMG_8959 IMG_3684 _MG_8259 ballona wetlands ballona sunset

Given that Los Angeles County has already lost 95% of its coastal wetlands, it’s critical that the state act to protect Ballona. Wetlands are unique habitat that connect land and sea.

Right now, only 3% of Ballona’s roughly 600 acres is functioning habitat. That simply is not enough. To be clear, there are a few vocal opponents who contend that no work should be done to restore the wetlands. But our coalition believes strongly that we must act now, guided by the best science, to prevent further irreversible deterioration.

Our Wetlands Principles Coalition has been busy analyzing the highly technical EIR document. We have been examining the various Alternatives for four key desired outcomes: increased habitat quality to benefit native wildlife, greater protection from flooding, improved water quality and increased public access to trails for education and nature appreciation.

Attend the hearing and tell officials that you want a robust restoration of the Ballona Wetlands that:

  • Maximizes natural wetland habitat and function
  • Protects native wildlife and plant diversity
  • Increases natural buffers against climate change
  • Minimizes negative disturbance
  • Provides open space and access for all
  • And most of all you want to BRING BACK BALLONA!

The public meeting will be held at Burton Chace Park. RSVP for the public hearing and we will provide you with more information about how to prepare and be heard.

If you cannot attend the meeting, you can also send your comments by email to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

California Fish & Wildlife:

Read more about our efforts to “Bring Back Ballona” and also register for our Explore Ballona events this month, ranging from bike tours to habitat restoration.

Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay

Photos of Ballona Wetlands on September 16, 2017 by Nicola Buck.

Excuse the pun, but today marks a watershed moment for one of our region’s most important natural places — the Ballona Wetlands.

After years of delay, state and federal authorities released restoration plans Monday for the beleaguered 600-acre Reserve in the Playa del Rey area. Greater L.A. has already lost nearly 95% of its coastal wetlands, so we’re ecstatic to see officials finally moving forward to protect this ecological jewel.

But it’s not just scientists and enviro junkies who should care. Wetlands touch everyone in our region, no matter where we live.

  • Do you like more thriving open space for all Angelenos?
  • Do you like protecting habitat for local animals and native species?
  • Do you like improved water quality throughout the region?
  • Do you like natural buffers from the coming ravages of climate change?
  • Do you like providing natural spaces for young students to explore?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you already care about protecting and restoring wetlands.

Why Ballona Needs Our Help To Heal

For Angelenos, Ballona Wetlands, located between Marina del Rey and LMU, are the largest wetlands habitat in the region. Unfortunately they are not healthy or functioning well and need our help.

Decades ago, authorities building Marina del Rey dumped 3 million cubic yards of fill onto the wetlands – about 28 million wheelbarrows’ worth. Even before that, to protect against flooding, Ballona Creek was encased in concrete, removing the vital connection between land and water.

These actions served as a double-whammy – degrading natural habitat and starving the wetlands from essential sources of salt and fresh water.

Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay

One Step Closer To Restoring Ballona

Today the California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released their long-gestating draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/S), which presents three project alternatives for restoration. They examine the pros and cons of each alternative to meet the overall goals of the project, which are ecosystem restoration, increased public access and enhanced recreational use.

The good news is that the lead agencies seem fully and genuinely committed to a habitat restoration project that grows public access. Our staff scientists look forward to working with them to realize the option that we think best meets the goals for a healthy wetland.

The release of the EIR/S marks the beginning of a 60-day public comment period when anyone can weigh in on the plans.

Robust Restoration Is The Only Option

Heal the Bay is working together with a coalition of leading environmental groups and wetland scientists to advocate for restoration projects that put science first and maximize every opportunity to comprehensively restore our degraded wetlands.

Over the next few weeks, Heal the Bay will dive into the details and options highlighted in the restoration plans. The coalition doesn’t have a preferred alternative at the moment but will identify one in the coming weeks. It’s a thousand-page document – without the appendices! — so our team needs some time to thoughtfully review the EIR/S.

One alternative creates a more natural creek by removing concrete from Ballona Creek to reconnect the land to the water, north and south of the Creek; another alternative keeps the concrete along Ballona Creek but allows water to enter the floodplain north of the Creek, creating a so-called oxbow. Every EIR/S also has to examine the impacts of doing no project. You can see a nice review of the various options here.

Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay

Exact details of the restoration are still being worked out. But we can say for certain that we have to do something.

The Ballona Wetlands are highly degraded from fill, are too high in elevation and lack the critical connection to fresh and salt water. In addition, more than half the Wetlands Reserve has been taken over by non-native invasive plants, reducing economic, ecological, and social value.

If we just leave the Wetlands alone, and do no restoration work, they will continue to degrade. They cannot heal on their own.

It’s critical we help our local environment thrive. In L.A. County, on average we have 3.3 acres of greenspace per 1,000 residents – well below the national average for major metropolises. We can do better.

You’re Invited To Explore Ballona

Heal the Bay, along with our partners, is dedicated to Bringing Back Ballona. As part of this effort, we invite you to join us over the next month to discover the wetlands.

We’re hosting events so the general public can explore this amazing resource, see why it needs help, and understand its incredible potential.

Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay

You can pick and choose from a number of fun and educational opportunities with our staff, partners and volunteers:

And stay tuned – as we review the alternatives for restoration, we will keep you informed. We are going to need your help. We need you to add your voice to help protect this special green space.

Send in your comments

Please email short letters of support calling for robust restoration of the Wetlands to the key decision makers — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Fish & Wildlife. Comments are due by Feb. 5.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

California Fish & Wildlife:

Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay

Participating in our biggest volunteer event is guaranteed to lift your spirits, writes aquarium staffer and veteran organizer Randi Parent.

This will be my 13th year as a Heal the Bay staff member rolling up my sleeves to organize our biggest volunteer event of the year — Coastal Cleanup Day — on Saturday Sept. 16. (I should be logging No. 14, but taking my daughter to college was the priority a few years back.)

It’s a day of big numbers: half a million people around the globe, volunteering to tidy up their favorite park, stream, lake or shoreline. Millions of pounds of debris picked up, documented, bagged and disposed of, all within a few hours on a Saturday morning by folks in 112 countries. Heal the Bay has historically organized coastal and inland sites in L.A. County, welcoming up to 20,000 volunteers spread out at cleanup locations from Malibu to Compton.

I usually help mobilize our biggest site, next to the Santa Monica Pier, where we’ve sent more than 2,000 people out along the beach. But I’ve also assisted at much smaller inland cleanups, where the power of a few community groups spreading out along a concrete-lined riverbed makes everyone feel mighty, as they weigh their garbage haul at the end of the morning.

For this year’s event – which runs from 9 a.m. to noon – it’s exciting to hear we’ll be including several locations around the county where active wetlands restoration is in progress.

Volunteers are removing invasive plants that choke waterways and they’re removing the trash that accumulates in the overgrowth too – a win-win for the native plants and animals that depend on these riparian habitats for their survival. These sites – LAX Dunes and Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa del Rey, Medea Creek in Agoura Hills and Alta Vicente Reserve in Rancho Palos Verde — all offer an opportunity to become involved with an ongoing restoration project.

But no matter the size, scope or location of the cleanup, there’s been one constant in my 13 Coastal Cleanup Days with Heal the Bay: the genuine feeling of satisfaction and connection I receive after spending a morning with community members, school groups, families and individuals who really care. In a world full of dysfunction and strife, we gather for a simple task that makes a world of difference. On one Saturday in September, we can all make a small corner of this planet that much cleaner and healthier. It may sound corny, but it’s a very powerful moment.

I look forward to meeting you at the Pier cleanup site this year. But there are many more to choose from! Please register today.

UPDATE: On May 8, Culver City’s City Council voted unanimously to adopt the single-use polystyrene ban. The ban goes into effect on November 8, 2017.

Earlier this week, the City of Culver City took the first step to join other local municipalities to pass a ban on two types of plastics which wreak havoc on marine life and are often used by food providers: polystyrene foam (commonly known as Stryofoam™) and oriented polystyrene.

Polystyrene foam is frequently used in take-out food packaging like cups and to-go boxes. It’s very lightweight and often flies away from trash bins and landfills. Oriented polystyrene (aka solid polystyrene) is used to make items like utensils, lids and food packaging.

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Polystyrene is seldom recycled due to its low quality and value, even though it’s designated with recycling code 6.

As a result, both types of polystyrene are ubiquitous at beach and watershed cleanups. According to Heal the Bay’s Marine Debris Database, our volunteers have picked up 504,832 Styrofoam™ items from beaches in L.A. County in the last 10 years. Banning these specific plastics is a big win for our coastal environment, especially considering Culver City is situated within the watershed of Ballona Creek and its downstream wetland habitat.

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Santa Monica started banning polystyrene ten years ago, and there continues to be talk of a ban on a state-wide level. But now Culver City has the bragging rights. This local municipality courageously chose to adopt some of the most stringent policies in the area by banning polystyrene coffee lids and straws from businesses as well.

The Culver City ban will begin on November 8, 2017, giving local businesses time to run through their current stock and prepare for the changes. According to the Culver City ordinance, no food provider shall use, distribute, or sell any single-use foam polystyrene or polystyrene service ware, denoted by recycling identification code 6 (PS).

In an additional and welcome caveat to the ordinance, Culver City businesses now must first ask if you want cutlery before simply throwing in plastic utensils with your take-out food. This idea works hand in hand with Heal the Bay’s Rethink the Drink campaign—coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

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Ballona Creek Renaissance lead the charge on this effort, with multiple Surfrider chapters reliably showing up in force over the nearly year-long endeavor. Our own Gnarly Beach Cleaner, Michael Doshi, was consistently there for the countless council and sustainability sub-committee meetings, while recent Heal the Bay Super Healer award winner, environmental science educator, and Team Marine leader at Santa Monica High School Benjamin Kay was present to seal the deal on Tuesday, April 11 right before midnight.

If there was one loser in this endeavor it would have to be impromptu beach parties.  Starting in November, “No [Culver] City business shall sell polystyrene coolers.” So in light of this, Heal the Bay recommends you simply do not procrastinate in the planning of those.

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Heal the Bay has been making Southern California safer, healthier, and cleaner since 1985. Using the best science and grassroots community action, we mobilize campaigns that have lasting impact on our shorelines and neighborhoods. Here’s a sneak peek at the year ahead:

Thriving Oceans

Our local waters should be teeming with wildlife, not trash.

Rethink The Drink

Beverage-related items form the bulk of trash collected at our cleanups – plastic water bottles, straws, bottle caps, and bits of Styrofoam cups. To stem the deluge, we’re launching a community campaign encouraging people to go reusable, while our policy staff pursues regulations that hold dischargers responsible for drink-related waste.

Why It Matters: It’s estimated that plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean by the year 2050. We simply must end our addiction to single-use plastics if we want to reverse this frightening trend.

How You Can Help: Skip the straw. Pass on the plastic bottle. Forget the foam.

Healthy Watersheds

Vibrant shorelines depend on fully functioning urban creeks and rivers.

Cleaning Our Creeks

Our science and policy team will dramatically expand its water-quality monitoring program by launching regular analysis at more than a dozen locations along the L.A. River and Ballona Creek. Modeled after our A-to-F Beach Report Card, the new grading program will support public health and aquatic well-being throughout the watershed.

Why It Matters: We can’t expect our beaches and wetlands to be clean if the waters that feed them are filled with harmful pollutants. As we fight for tougher limits on polluters, this advocacy requires consistent and scientifically gathered data.

How You Can Help: Take a tour of the L.A. River or the Ballona Wetlands to understand the stakes. Curtail polluting runoff to our creeks by cleaning up after your pet, opting for copper-free brake pads, and curtailing fertilizer and pesticide use.

Smart Water

Los Angeles imports over 80% of its water – a number that’s far too high.

Re-Plumbing L.A.

The Southland needs to move beyond its centralized approach to water, which relies heavily on massive infrastructure – be it pumping water from the Sacramento Delta or Hyperion discharging millions of gallons of wastewater into the sea. Instead, Heal the Bay will lead the charge to invest in nature-based solutions, such as the L.A. City Council’s proposal to require “green street” capture-and-infiltrate features in all street, median, and parkway projects.

Why It Matters:  A resilient L.A. depends on the widespread adoption of strategies that maximize on-site management of all forms of water. No single entity can win the water wars single-handedly. Local water agencies, business, homeowners, and renters all need to manage water more wisely. Making the most of our local water resources will help keep more environmentally harmful and costly options, like ocean desalination, at bay.

How You Can Help:  Rip out your grass lawn. Break up a driveway. Support civic investment in stormwater capture.

Watch Video

Get the full scoop from Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s Vice President (2-minute video).

Por Matthew King | traducido por Beatriz Lorenzo | 25 enero 2017

La semana pasada el nuevo gobierno ordeno la congelación de los fondos para las becas y los contratos con la EPA. El director de comunicaciones Matthew King repasa cinco formas en las que esta directiva podría dañar la bahía.

Estos son tiempos revueltos y extraños en Washington D.C. Muchos conservadores y populistas están eufóricos con el nuevo gobierno, mientras que los progresistas cada día que pasa se sienten más pesimistas.

También nos podemos aventurar a decir que también son tiempos revueltos en nuestras oficinas a medida que vamos entendiendo y procesando lo que las acciones de la administración de Trump suponen para nuestro trabajo y para la bahía.

Como un perro guardián de confianza, Heal the Bay se guía por la mejor ciencia y no por las emociones. Y cuando una acción federal de la nueva administración amenaza la salud y el bienestar de la Bahía, hablamos bien claro.

Pues bien, éste es uno de esos momentos.

La semana pasada llegué al trabajo y nos enteramos de que la nueva administración había impuesto la congelación inmediata de todos los contratos y becas de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de Estados Unidos (U.S. EPA). El alarmante procedimiento “amenaza con interrumpir operaciones tan importantes como las limpiezas de tóxicos o la monitorización de la calidad del agua”, según la investigación de ProPublica.

En total, la U.S. EPA reparte aproximadamente unos $6.4 billones en becas federales cada año para apoyar testeos, limpiezas e iniciativas para la recuperación, incluyendo varios de los programas de Heal the Bay.

Los funcionarios de la transición insisten en que es una mera pausa para permitir a los nuevos gerentes valorar si los programas deben continuar. Pero los empleados con más antigüedad y abogados especializados dan una imagen diferente – normalmente se congelan las contrataciones de empleados, pero no las becas, esto es inusual y amenaza con la interrupción de las contratas.

Según ProPublica, así respondió un contratante con la EPA a las preguntas de un empleado de una gestora de aguas pluviales: “ahora mismo estamos esperando. La nueva administración de la U.S. EPA ha pedido que todas las contratas y becas se suspendan temporalmente con efecto inmediato. Y hasta que recibamos clarificación del asunto, esto incluye tareas y asignación de proyectos.”

Hay muchas preguntas en el aire con esta suspensión, como cuanto durara y a que contratas impactara de modo más directo.

Como destinatarios de casi $200,000 anuales en formas de becas de la U.S. EPA estamos preocupados. De forma similar, muchas de las organizaciones con las que estamos asociados reciben fondos federales que impulsan iniciativas de colaboración con Heal The Bay.

Aún tenemos más preguntas que respuestas, pero vamos a ver el top 5 de los que se podrían ver afectados por la congelación de los fondos:

  1. Monitorización habitual de la calidad del agua de las playas

Nuestro Informe de Playas da una nota semanalmente de A a F a más de 500 playas en California, evitando que millones de personas que van a la playa se pongan enfermas. Los fondos de la U.S. EPA respaldan el testeo semanal del agua llevado a cabo por muchas agencias de salud condales por todo el estado. Sin dinero = no hay testeo = no hay datos = no hay informe de playas = puesta en peligro de la salud pública. En el pasado nos hemos enfrentado a problemas de este estilo cuando ha habido reducciones temporales del presupuesto, y hemos podido articular fondos poco a poco para poder seguir haciendo la monitorización. Pero ahora mismo, respecto a programas en las playas, no hay un plan del estado u otras instituciones financieras de recoger los pedazos que la EPA ha dejado.

  1. Mantener los ríos y arroyos locales sanos.

La salud de la bahía no se puede separar de la salud de las aguas que desembocan en ella. Arroyos, ríos y riachuelos fluyendo limpios traen consigo numerosos beneficios medioambientales, de hábitat, de mejor calidad del agua y de espacios de ocio. La U.S. EPA financia nuestro programa Stream Team pagando a los científicos empleados en la monitorización del agua y educación del público en lo referido al rio de Los Ángeles. Programas como el U.S. EPA’s Urban Waters Grant están especialmente diseñados para respaldar la restauración y protección de importantes vías de agua que fluyen por nuestras comunidades en los sitios en los que se necesita más un entorno natural al aire libre. La pérdida de programas como este es particularmente devastador para L.A.

    1. Proteger nuestros menguantes humedales

L.A. ya ha perdido el 95% de sus lagunas costeras. Con el cambio climático y la urbanización invadiendo los pocos humedales que quedan, es crítico que actuemos ya para defender este hábitat natural. A través del National Estuary Program, la U.S. EPA trabaja para coordinar la protección y restauración de hábitats importantes en la bahía de Santa Mónica, como el Ballona Wetlands o las dunas costeras. Sarah Sikich, vicepresidenta de Heal the Bay’s, es también la vicepresidenta de la Junta Directiva de la Comisión de Restauración de la Bahía de Santa Mónica (Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Governing Board), el socio estatal del programa nacional de estuarios (National Estuary Program). Sin esta comisión, la protección y revitalización de los hábitats y de la calidad del agua en la Bahía de Santa Mónica quedaría seriamente incapacitada.

Son iniciativas esenciales para la salud a largo plazo de la bahía y en último caso, del sur de California. Congelar o reducir estos programas sería realmente imprudente.

      1. Deshacerse del DDT en la Bahía

Mucha gente no se da cuenta de que la Bahía es lo que se llama un EPA Superfund site – que significa que somos uno de los lugares más peligrosamente contaminados de la nación. Un espacio de 180 acres de fondo marino cerca de Palos Verdes es el depósito más grande del mundo del pesticida DDT, un legado químico de los años 50 y 60.

El plan a largo plazo de la EPA de limpiar este desastre no debería quedarse en el limbo, ya que existe un acuerdo legal que requiere la limpieza de estos vertidos para proteger la vida animal y la salud pública.

      1. Prevenir el consumo de pescados locales contaminados

Gran cantidad de los peces pescados en la Bahía de Santa Mónica son aptos para el consumo. Pero algunas especies están contaminadas con niveles tóxicos de DDT, PCB y mercurio. Gracias a los fondos de la EPA, nuestro laureado equipo “Pier Angler Outreach” ha sondeado los sitios comunes de pesca local y ha advertido directamente a cerca de 150,000 personas sobre los peces aptos o no para consumo en una variedad de idiomas, desde tagalo a español. Por ser este un trabajo contratado requerido por un acuerdo legal, se encuentra en peligro por la congelación de fondos.

Por último, la congelación de fondos y contratas son parte de preocupaciones mayores. El nuevo gobierno ha empezado a avanzar amenazas reales para reducir programas de aguas limpias y regulaciones para proteger la salud pública; proteger hábitats como humedales y arroyos que amortiguan los impactos del cambio climático en comunidades y salvaguardan la fauna y otros logros importantes en materia de medioambiente.

Amordazando a sus agencias para que no comuniquen su importante labor y el estado real del medioambiente también es perjuicio enorme para el público, pues mantiene a los americanos en la ignorancia sobre importantes descubrimientos y sobre el estado de sus recursos naturales.

En los próximos días, prometemos compartir más información sobre los cambios de la U.S. EPA según los vayamos recibiendo. Y aun preocupados por las acciones de la semana pasada, seguimos en alerta por si se retira algunas de las regulaciones federales de las que se ha hablado que tuviese impacto en California. Si le preocupan estos problemas, es el momento de hacer oír su voz.

Contacte a su representante para pedirle la protección de estos programas tan importantes para el medioambiente. Pronto pondremos en marcha una alerta para que pueda pedir a los legisladores que mantengan los fondos de la EPA que más afectan a la Bahía en marcha. Permanezca a la escucha.

Según vamos haciendo la estrategia para la respuesta formal a la congelación de fondos, le animamos a hacer una donación para respaldar nuestro trabajo protegiendo la Bahía.

The new administration ordered funding freezes of EPA grants and contracts yesterday. Communications Director Matthew King examines five ways this directive could harm the Bay.

UPDATE 2/1/17: Today members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works boycotted the vote to confirm Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A vote will be rescheduled in the coming days. Add your voice to this petition now urging the U.S. Senate Committee to reject Pruitt’s nomination. Tell our elected officials to maintain strong EPA funding for programs that affect our Bays nationwide.

These are strange and unsettled times in Washington, D.C. Many conservatives and populists are euphoric about the promise of a new administration, while progressives grow increasingly pessimistic with each passing day.

It’s also safe to say these are strange and unsettled times here in our offices, as we process what the actions of the Trump administration could mean for our work and the Bay.

As a trusted watchdog, Heal the Bay is guided by the best science, not emotion. And when a federal action from the new administration threatens the health and well-being of the Bay, we speak out forcefully.

Well, this week is one of those weeks.

Coming into work yesterday morning, we learned that the new administration had imposed an immediate freeze on grants and contracts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The startling move “threatens to disrupt core operations ranging from toxic cleanups to water quality testing,” according to a ProPublica record search.

In all, the U.S. EPA dispenses some $6.4 billion in federal grants each year to support testing, cleanup and remediation initiatives, including several Heal the Bay programs.

Transition officials insist the freeze is merely a pause and allows incoming managers to assess if the programs should move forward. But longtime U.S. EPA employees and seasoned advocates paint a different picture – hiring freezes happen, but grant freezes are unusual and can threaten to disrupt contracted work.

Here’s how one U.S. EPA contractor responded to questions from a stormwater management employee, per ProPublica: “Right now we are in a holding pattern. The new U.S. EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately. Until we receive further clarification, this includes task orders and work assignments.”

Many questions remain about the EPA freeze, such as how long it will last and which contracts it impacts.

As recipients of nearly $200,000 in yearly U.S. EPA grants, we are rightly anxious. Similarly, many of our partner organizations receive federal funds that power collaborative initiatives with Heal the Bay.

We still have more questions than answers, but here’s a look at our top 5 issues that could be affected by grant freezes:


1. Regular Monitoring of Beach Water Quality

Our Beach Report Card provides weekly A-to-F water-quality grades for more than 500 California beaches, protecting millions of oceangoers each year from getting sick. U.S. EPA grants underwrite the weekly sampling and testing of beaches conducted by many county health agencies throughout the state. No money = no testing = no data = no Beach Report Card = compromised public health. We’ve faced this issue with temporary budget reductions in the past, and have scrambled to piecemeal some bridge funds to keep some monitoring alive. But, there is no current plan for the state or other funders to pick up the pieces dropped by EPA if funding for beach programs is slashed.


2. Keeping Our Local Streams Healthy

The health of the Bay can’t be separated from the health of the waters that feed it. Fully functioning and thriving creeks, streams and rivers provide numerous environmental benefits – habitat, improved water quality and recreational space. U.S. EPA grants to our Stream Team program fund our staff scientists’ ongoing monitoring and education efforts along the L.A. River. Programs, like U.S. EPA’s Urban Waters Grant programs are specially designed to support restoration and protection of the important waterways that flow through communities in places that are most in need of open and natural space. Loss of programs like these is particularly devastating for L.A.


3. Protecting Our Dwindling Wetlands

L.A. has already lost 95% of its coastal lagoons. With climate change and urbanization encroaching on our few remaining wetlands, it’s critical we act now to defend critical habitat. Through its National Estuary Program, the U.S. EPA funds work to coordinate protection and restoration of important habitats throughout Santa Monica Bay, like Ballona Wetlands and coastal dunes. Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s vice president, serves as a Vice Chair of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Governing Board, the state partner of the National Estuary Program. Without this Commission, protection and revitalization of habitats and water quality in the Santa Monica Bay would be seriously hamstrung.

These are essential initiatives for the long-term health of the Bay and Southern California. Freezing or cutting back on these programs would truly be pound foolish.


4. Getting Rid of DDT in the Bay

Many people don’t realize that the Bay is home to an EPA Superfund site – a tag applied to some of the nation’s most dangerously polluted sites. A 180-acre swath of ocean floor off Palos Verdes is the world’s largest deposit of the pesticide DDT, the legacy of chemical dumping in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The EPA’s decades-long plan to clean up this mess should not be in limbo, because a legal settlement requires it to be cleaned up to protect animal life and people alike.


5. Preventing the Unsafe Consumption of Locally Caught Fish

Most fish caught in Santa Monica Bay are safe to eat. Some species, however, are contaminated with toxic levels of DDT, PCB and mercury. Thanks to an EPA grant, our award-winning Pier Angler Outreach team has canvassed local fishing spots and directly warned nearly 150,000 people about what fish are dangerous to eat in a variety of languages from Tagalog to Spanish. Because this is contract work required under a legal settlement, it is buffered against today’s freeze.

These grant and contract freezes are part of a set of bigger concerns. The new administration has begun to advance real threats to roll back clean water programs and regulations that protect public health; offer habitat protections for wetlands and streams that buffer communities from climate change impacts and safeguard wildlife; and many other important environmental achievements. Muzzling its agencies from communicating about their important work and the status of our environment also does a huge disservice to the public, keeping Americans in the dark about important research findings and the state of environmental resources.

In the coming days, we promise to share more information about changes at the U.S. EPA as we receive it. And as concerned as we are about the actions of the past few days, we remain on high alert for the realization of any roll-backs of federal regulations that have been discussed, which may impact California. If you care about these issues, now is the time to make your voice heard. Contact your representative to urge them to protect important environmental policies and programs. We will also soon be posting an Action Alert that will allow you to urge policy makers to maintain strong EPA funding for vital programs that affect the Bay. Stay tuned.

While we strategize on a more formal response to this week’s funding freeze, we encourage you to consider a donation to help support our work to protect the Bay.