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Wetlands 'Banking' of No Account

September 05, 1993

* Is it possible that with the enlarging of Laguna Lakes with the realignment of Laguna Canyon Road that developers in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach or elsewhere will attempt to draw from the "bank" account of the newly restored ancient wetlands of Laguna Canyon to justify the taking of wetlands elsewhere?

As I see it, "banking wetlands" in areas such as Southern California will exacerbate problems of traffic and air pollution, desecrate the little remaining natural coastal environment, in particular, and its few indigenous ecosystems, destroy park potential where it should be allowed to continue to exist and needlessly create inappropriate density.

It is a little like overdrawing on one account with the excuse that there is money in some other. That certainly is of no help if the bank from which the money is taken is bankrupted as a result.

An interesting fact about development is that its runoff can actually be used to enlarge wetlands. Guidelines, from whatever level, should be used to encourage this kind of planning wherever possible, rather than the reverse, especially in the drought-ridden west.

While a blanket federal protection is a good thing, ultimately regional and local problems must be dealt with appropriately where they occur. "Banking" could become one more rip-off of resources including public and favoring special interests at the expense of the general good.

ANDY WING

Laguna Beach

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