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How Endangered Are Bolsa Chica Wetlands?

October 06, 1996

Re "A Shore Thing," Sept. 22:

People often ask environmentalists why it is so important to save the wetlands and endangered species. If the brown pelican, the least tern, Belding's savanna sparrow, the peregrine falcon, and the light footed clapper rail were gone, who would really care?

Of what value to Huntington Beach are these seldom seen creatures?

One answer is that their welfare is an indication of how we are doing, our overall environmental health. The rate at which our wildlife is declining is an alarming indicator of the habitat we all share--the air, the water and other life-sustaining resources. Yes, we can survive without the light footed clapper rail, but if we keep exterminating creatures by destroying their habitat, at some point our biological fabric will begin to unravel the very life support we depend upon.

If we develop the Bolsa Chica, we are sacrificing wetlands marsh and mesa, native plants, animals, fish, the whole Pacific flyway, tens of thousands of birds and huge chunks of the food chain. We will destroy the land that had a way of being and will eventually die.

Wake up Orange County! We are dismal failures as stewards of the land.

DONNA SPECHT

Huntington Beach

* I would like to share Koll Real Estate Group's perspective, which was not reflected in the story:

First, the wetlands may already be "saved." The California Coastal Commission has scheduled a hearing on Oct. 8 to consider the proposal by state and federal agencies to purchase and restore the entire Bolsa Chica lowland (where the wetlands are located) owned by Koll Real Estate Group. If approved, there will be no housing by Koll in the lowlands and no homes built on any severely degraded wetlands.

Second, the Sept. 21 rally for wetlands could have been used as an opportunity to garner support for that proposal so that the state and federal agencies interested in acquiring the property do, in fact, follow through with their commitments for acquisition and restoration of these severely degraded wetlands.

Finally, no state, federal agency or reputable environmental group has ever determined the Bolsa Chica mesa to be anything other than prior farm land. No endangered species reside there. No state or federal agency is interested in acquiring the mesa. And, there are no state or federal dollars available to do so without imposing additional taxes on Huntington Beach residents. The mesa has already been approved through a thorough public review process for a beautiful new community to provide homes for families, seniors and nature lovers who enjoy the same environment that 180,000 Huntington Beach residents surrounding the mesa now cherish. No houses will be built on wetlands.

Eco-sound bites make for good headlines. But, the real work of creating a viable wetlands system at Bolsa Chica is just beginning. Please contact the California Coastal Commission and California State Lands Commission to support the public acquisition and restoration of the remaining degraded wetlands at Bolsa Chica on Oct. 8.

LUCY DUNN

Senior Vice President

Koll Real Estate Group

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