Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lagoon Funding on Wildlife Conservation Board’s List

• Opponents Head to Sacramento

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Wildlife Conservation Board is scheduled to consider funding $4 million to the Malibu Lagoon restoration project at its meeting in Sacramento on Thursday after the Malibu Surfside News went to press.
The board, which operates under the auspices of the Department of Fish and Game, approves funding for wildlife habitat projects, restoration and wild-oriented public access, according to its website.
The funding for the lagoon, which comes from Prop 50 money, is described as consistent for such a project, because it allows for the restoration of a coastal wetlands.
However, Wetlands Defense Fund head Marcia Hanscom has objections to the board allocating such funds and issued a press release saying she and her supporters plan to attend the meeting and will attempt to get the board to deny the funding.
“We were not notified and, in fact, the full budget amount for this project appears to be a secret. This $4 million is on top of $7 million that has already been acknowledged for allocation,” she said.
Hanscom and her supporters oppose what even proponents call “aggressive” restoration measures, such as bulldozing the lagoon.
They were unable to persuade the California Coastal Commission, which granted the Department of Parks and Recreation a permit, that there was a feasible alternative to restore the small estuary which is plagued by poor water quality.
Hanscom said the group is still weighing its options, but might decide to take legal action and has even been raising funds for a legal battle.
“We have to oppose in court, the state and a huge number of agencies who signed off on a plan to destroy native plants and animals,” said Marshall Thompson, a member of the opposition group.

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