From the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust:
Dear Wetlands Supporters,
Along with several other stakeholder groups, we were completely blind-sided by yesterday’s announcement that the Annenberg Foundation plans to build several structures and a parking lot inside the 600 acre wildlife preserve and that this arrangement is to be finalized tomorrow via an agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and the California Coastal Commission are also reported to be parties to the agreement.
We had an emergency board meeting tonight and unanimously adopted the following position statement:
The Ballona Wetlands Land Trust strongly supports keeping the entire 600 acre ecological reserve intact in a natural state, free of building structures and hardscaping. While the Land Trust fully supports the creation of an interpretive center, we encourage the Annenberg Foundation to find a suitable site for this facility that does not encroach on the remaining 600 acre, publicly-owned Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, which is a small fraction of the original 2000 plus acre ecosystem.
We are unaware of any attempt to inform the public of this pending deal prior to yesterday’s news release, despite the fact that we have been actively engaged with the above mentioned agencies for several years with regard to the future of Ballona. This follows a long pattern from these agencies of keeping such back-room agreements from the public for as long as possible to avoid public scrutiny. This most recent development only heightens our many concerns about the larger vision for the restoration of this ecosystem.
The fact that retail space is even being considered within the ecological reserve makes clear that the agencies we are trusting to be good stewards of this ecosystem have a very different view of conservation and restoration than we do. We ought to be acquiring more adjacent land to add to the reserve, not paving over what little is left! We can’t keep sacrificing an acre here and an acre there to the concrete jungle if we want to leave any semblance of nature to future generations.
Action Request: Our ask of you is simple. Please call and/or email the Annenberg Foundation’s main office [310.209.4560 / [email protected]] and let them know that you support an interpretive center outside of the 600 acre ecological reserve. Let them know that we didn’t fight so hard for so long against so many odds only to see this ecosystem further eroded by human development. Ask them to contact us so that we can collaborate on how to achieve their vision in a way that enhances the ecological health of Ballona, rather than detracting from it. If you send an e-mail, please copy us.
Ballona Wetlands Land Trust
P.S. Please forward this information to as many interested people as you can.