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Playa Vista and Wetlands Preservation

December 15, 1996

* It's unfortunate that lies and half-truths told by Playa Vista developers are passed on by well-meaning folks like Rubell Helgeson ("A Phony War to Save the Ballona Wetlands," Commentary, Dec. 6). Indeed, the Ballona Valley is degraded and is invaded by nonnative plants that choke out the native ecological system. The landowners have been contributing to this folly for years.

Historically, more than half the land of the current 1,004.8-acre tract was wetlands--part of a lush estuary where the L.A. River met the Pacific Ocean. We're supposed to sit back and let agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Coastal Commission tell us there are only 190 acres of "delineated" wetlands left?

Wetlands delineations are a function of politics, and politics are contributing to an average of more than 200 acres of wetlands being destroyed each day nationwide.

Instead of bowing to politics and the funds that support it, we are asking for Los Angeles to step forward with a new vision for defining progress and, in a county where we are 75% deficient in our open space requirements, protect the entire Ballona Wetlands ecosystem and surrounding open space.

MARCIA HANSCOM, Exec. Dir.

Wetlands Action Network, Malibu

* Re "Learning the Ropes of Civil Disobedience," Dec. 7: You state that Suzanne Teachey "was arrested for locking herself to a bulldozer to protest a development in the Ballona Wetlands."

The bulldozer was there to begin much-needed restoration of a portion of the marsh--the freshwater element--that is the beginning of full restoration of the Ballona Wetlands. The development referred to will not be in the wetlands.

As chair of Friends of Ballona Wetlands, the organization that stopped a previous development plan that would have been in the wetlands, we are proud of the settlement agreement we won that not only preserves the wetlands, but adds additional habitat, all to be turned over to the public.

If Teachey really wants to save the Ballona Wetlands, she should join our work parties on the last Saturday of each month, when our volunteer crews remove nonnative vegetation, clean up debris and replant native plants.

RUTH LANSFORD

Playa del Rey

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