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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

State Parks Spokesperson Discusses Latest Lagoon Project Details

• Test Phase Has Commenced Dewatering Plan Still Requires Final Written Approval from CCC

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Testing has commenced for the dewatering phase of the Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement plan. Pumping will begin as soon as the dewatering plan is approved on paper by the California Coastal Commission, State Parks Angeles District Supervisor Craig Sap told the Malibu Surfside News.
“We understand that the scrutiny is very high,” Sap said. “At State Parks we have nothing to hide.”
Sap met last week with a group of concerned residents that included Mayor Pro Tem Lou LaMonte, water quality activist Wendy Werner and a dozen longtime surfers, including veterans Bill Parr and Bill Boyle.
“The surfers brought historic slides [of the lagoon and creek]. They were concerned about 20-year storm events,” Sap said. “They had concerns about interpretive panels that could end up on the beach [during a storm].”
Sap said that the steel and concrete interpretive features will be installed at the end of the construction process and that the contractors will have “some leeway” with the placement.
A concrete and steel shade feature designed to evoke a “kelp forest” was another controversial feature.
Sap said that the structure, previously described as “umbrellas” is actually more a “ramada.” “It was made to sound like a telephone pole with a mushroom cap, but that's not the case,” Sap said.
“It will provide thin, dappled light coming through,” Sap explained, adding that the feature was included to provide shade for visiting school children and that planting trees for shade in the area adjacent the parking lot is not an option.
“It’s not a native area,” Sap explained. “It’s a more developed area.” Trees would take a while to get to the right height and would not be sustainable. The root system would be disruptive if they were tall enough to provide shade.”
 “I’ve told everyone who has opposed the project that I appreciate what they are doing,” Sap said. “I rely on them to be protectors, future docents. They are passionate and I appreciate that.”
Werner told The News that the surfers also questioned the decision to place the trunks of several sycamore trees removed during the construction process in the reconfigured channels. “State Parks sees them as fish habitat. We're concerned that they are going to end up in the surf zone,” Werner said.
Werner said that the revised dewatering plan was an improvement over the previous plan.. “They did move the dewatering pipe off the sand and into the mean high tide line. The have a retention area and won't be dewatering everything at once.
“There are now four days of monitoring instead of three,” Werner said. “It should be tested two times a day until it's consistent, but at least they added some testing.  We should have independent testing. Maybe the city council could dedicate the $25,000 they set aside to study the project for monitoring,” she suggested.
The Surfers Coalition to Save Malibu Lagoon also continues to have water quality concerns. “We are all still quite concerned with the disturbance of the muck that has moved around from one end of the lagoon to the other. We are anxiously waiting the results of the 48-hour testing of the equipment,” an email from the group states.
According to a Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission press release, “A lot of good things are happening at the Malibu Lagoon. Hundreds of small mammals and lizards were relocated to safe habitat on site, thanks to the diligent work of our biologists and equipment operators. The vegetation has been largely removed, except for plants around six duck nests that are being protected until the young have fledged and the mothers no longer use the nests. Five other nests that were also protected onsite, where young successfully fledged, have already been abandoned, with no impacts to the birds that were using them.”
According to the report, “Thousands of cubic yards of soils have been moved from the lagoon channels, and we have found virtually no life in them. There were very few clams, and no worms, insect larvae, or any of the aquatic invertebrates that we would normally expect to see living in a wetland. As expected, the channel sediments were nearly devoid of fauna due to poor conditions.”
The press release also states that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued “a critical habitat designation for the endangered western snowy plover, which includes a small portion on the southeast corner of Malibu Lagoon State Park.”
According to the SMBRC press release, “The Army Corps of Engineers has initiated a new consultation with USFWS to determine whether these areas actually do provide the “constituent elements” of critical snowy plover habitat. Until then no work is occurring within these areas.”

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