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February 1, 2012 | By Bettina Boxall
How easy is it to recreate nature? When it comes to wetlands, the answer seems to be “not very.” A new paper examining data from more than 600 restored or man-made wetlands found that in key ways, they don't measure up to the real thing. Wetlands perform vital ecosystem functions. They act as fish nurseries, control erosion, clean up water, store carbon, and provide wildlife habitat. But they have been filled, drained and paved over at a steady pace, prompting efforts to restore them in California and across the nation.  The study , published in the January issue of PLoS Biology, raises questions about the ultimate success of those projects.
January 21, 2012 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
In a first step toward restoring one of Southern California's few remaining wetlands and opening it to the public, the state has approved spending $6.5 million for planning a massive restoration of the degraded Ballona Wetlands — but conservationists are at odds over what that means for the future of the site. Though construction is still years away, the question of how drastically to alter the existing landscape in order to revive the remaining 600 acres of the Ballona Wetlands is polarizing conservationists who fought for three decades to protect the site from the sort of development that ate up most of it. "It's going to be a delicate balancing act," said Lisa Fimiani, executive director of Friends of Ballona Wetlands and a cautious supporter of restoration.
January 3, 2012 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
Mike and Chantell Sackett wanted to live on scenic Priest Lake in Idaho but couldn't afford it. So they bought a residential lot across the road that offered a distant view of the water, clearing the land and laying gravel. But instead of building their dream home, the Sacketts found themselves enmeshed in a four-year legal battle with the Environmental Protection Agency over whether their dry lot is a protected "wetlands" and possibly off-limits for building. Next week, the Supreme Court will take up the Sacketts' case, not to redefine wetlands but to decide whether landowners are entitled to a hearing before a judge when they are confronted by the EPA. The case is being closely watched by developers and environmentalists.
December 22, 2011 | By Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times
Despite dozens of public meetings, and promises of jobs and millions in revenue, a bid to turn an aging pink hotel into a ritzy $320-million coastal development in Long Beach is over. "This had the potential of being huge and it's dead in the water," Councilwoman Rae Gabelich said Wednesday. After six hours of sometimes heated discussion at a packed City Council meeting Tuesday night, the proposed complex at 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway was rejected on a 5-3 vote. "Quite frankly, I'm disappointed with my colleagues," Gabelich said.
November 11, 2011 | By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times
A state appeals court has upheld the city of Los Angeles' approval of Playa Vista's second and final phase. ?Wetlands activists had challenged ?a revised environmental impact report for the Village, as Phase 2 of the big project south of Marina del Rey is known. The Los Angeles City Council initially approved the environmental report for the Village in April 2004. Challengers sued, alleging that the EIR was flawed. In January 2006, an L.A. County Superior Court judge upheld the city's approval.
October 22, 2011 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
Jarron Lucas tromped through waist-high brush at the Chatsworth Nature Preserve, flipping over weathered boards. "Let's see if anyone's home," he said, lifting a plank. Coiled underneath was a reddish snake with dark brown cross bands on its neck. Lucas reached down and snatched the young red racer. "It's just a baby," he said as the slender 14-inch snake writhed in his hand. Male, too, he said, judging from the long tail. A few yards away, he found a 4-foot adult female red racer thick as a broom handle.
September 28, 2011 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
A major restoration project could bring back a long-degraded wetland to one of the remote islands off the Southern California coast. Workers have broken ground on a $1-million project that will cut down 1,800 nonnative eucalyptus trees and scoop out tons of dirt and gravel to restore a coastal wetland on Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park officials announced Monday. In the coming months, crews will work to return some 60 acres of habitat on the rugged island to its native state, before it was degraded by ranching and farming activity more than a century ago. Crews have started using heavy equipment to reshape the mouth of the island's largest stream so it will flow freely onto four acres of restored wetland at Prisoners Harbor.
August 8, 2011 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from San Rafael, Calif. -- As the morning fog peeled off the northernmost reaches of San Francisco Bay on a recent weekday, federal wildlife refuge manager Don Brubaker walked among relics of a secret Navy listening post on Skaggs Island — patches of asphalt, a few palm trees and a dilapidated gazebo. The military installation operated for 51 years on the 3,300-acre man-made island about a half-mile north of the shoreline, surrounded by marshlands and kept dry by a system of levees and pumps that continue to divert water off its weedy flatlands.
May 30, 2011 | By Michael Miller, Los Angeles Times
Twenty-five years ago, Gordon Smith banded with fellow environmentalists and set out to acquire and restore the remaining wetlands in Huntington Beach. Now, Smith may be on the verge of knocking down the last barrier to his goal. The state of California recently began the process of transferring ownership of the Newland Marsh, a 44-acre property at Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway that constitutes the final stretch of wetlands that Smith's nonprofit, the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, has yet to take over.
March 6, 2011 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
Cities along California's coastline that for years have dismissed reports of climate change or lagged in preparing for rising sea levels are now making plans to fortify their beaches, harbors and waterfronts. Communities up and down the coast have begun drafting plans to build up wetlands as buffers against rising tides, to construct levees and seawalls to keep the waters at bay or to retreat from the shoreline by moving structures inland. Among them is Newport Beach, a politically conservative city where a council member once professed to not believe in global warming.
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