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Restored or ruined? Malibu Lagoon project stirs strong opinions

The $7-million project has been long in the making — two decades and counting. Whether it is or will be successful remains a matter of intense debate and conjecture.

April 29, 2013|By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times

For now, however, the lagoon resembles a starter kit. Malibu Colony homes — "Look, there's Pamela Anderson's tepee!" — that were once screened by vegetation are now exposed to the view of surfers who walk a decomposed-granite path from the parking lot to the ocean.

Plastic flags on long metal rods mark where wetland and upland plants are growing: sandbar willow, blackberry, coreopsis, blue-eyed grass, pickleweed, marsh jaumea and tule reed. Temporary above-ground sprinklers snake across the muddy landscape. In some cases, weeds have sprouted more quickly and robustly than the desired native plants. In one area of the lagoon, female prisoners from a nearby facility were pulling out invasive plants. The state also plans to recruit volunteers for weeding duty in coming months.

Suzanne Goode, senior environmental scientist with California State Parks, said the lagoon plantings would take about two years to fill in.

"We're not saying this is exactly what it was [historically]," she said. "But we're doing the best we can to get it as close as we can."

martha.groves@latimes.com

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