Protecting the Cradle of Life
But that's the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and worth the doing.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahreinheit 451
"We did it once; we can do it again!"
In 2004, after the State of California officially acquired more than 640 acres Ballona Wetlands for wildlife protection, the citizens believed that this land, and all the species that flourished upon it, at last would be protected. The animals -- and their habitat -- finally would be safe!
Yet, less than 10 years after the arduous organizing work and legal challenges were completed, the people were shocked to learn that the very government agencies charged with protecting this land had aligned themselves with exploitative interests. Beset with steep financial problems, the state had been floundering to find sufficient revenues to maintain these new public lands. And the promise of additional funds might be a way to refill public coffers drained by more than a decade of irresponsible money management.
And so now Ballona is faced with an even more serious challenge.
Today's challenge, perhaps, is even stronger than it was before. Why? Because the public wants to trust and to believe that government agencies would not abandon their principles for money.
Unfortunately, however, the Annenberg Foundation has devised a way to deliver money to the state. And three state agencies -- the State Coastal Conservancy, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission -- have signed a deal that obliges the State to support the Annenberg Foundation's Ballona Wetlands project. That project -- (see "Annenberg Deal Problems" - in the documents section of this website) is not allowed by deed restrictions or by the usual rules governing an ecological reserve.
The Annenberg/State project WOULD excavate more than 2 million cubic yards of soil, demolish the Ballona Creek levees (which have been in a state of equilibrium since the 1930s), construct a 46,000-square-foot dog-and-cat veterinary complex, destroy the biodiversity of numerous plant and animal species, and alter the hydrology and historical landscape of the entire region.
The plans are being made even more palatable to a trusting public by being marketed under the guise of "a restoration project." Even the implementation of these plans is dependent on companies that specialize in dredging, bulldozing, re-engineering and landscaping projects.
But this is not a restoration. A genuine restoration of sensitive ecological areas like Ballona needs to be carried out like a painstakingly careful restoration of a fine Van Gogh or Monet painting. Not by erasing the canvas and starting over while losing the irreplaceable artistic treasure.
How do we know that there is a threat, even though no plans have been officially announced?
It is through citizens' public records requests and by participating in public agencies where contacts are made with state employees who sometimes are happy to shine a light on otherwise unpublicized plans.
As a result of these public inquiries, many of these plans are available to you here in the "Documents" section of this website. Browse through them. None have been officially released to the public yet -- either as is, or in press releases. So, if someone tells you there are NO plans for Ballona, don't believe them. Print these out, grab them in your fists, and shake them over their heads! No plans? Just look at all these plans! And they will truly destroy the endangered species living in Ballona, the myriads of animals who are not endangered, and ultimately the health and safety of you and me and a public that is becoming increasingly separated from its roots and the wildness still alive within the heart of America!
"The Coast is never saved. It is always BEING saved. Our work, your work, is a labor of love that is never finished, "
-- Peter Douglas, longtime executive director of the California Coastal Commission, fighting back tears at his final Coastal Commission meeting in August, 2011, prior to his death in April, 2012.