Ballona Wetlands

The Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve is one of the last significant estuarine and freshwater wetland landscapes in coastal Los Angeles County and is named after the Mexican Rancho La Ballona, for which later Port Ballona and Ballona Creek derive their names. Lower Ballona Creek flows through the estuarine wetland between two earthen levees that flank the soft-bottom soil with a unique marine infauna, found only in this tidal river, and which is nearly fully covered with ocean water only at high tide, twice each day. Intermingled with the estuary and at the peripheral boundaries of the wetland landscape are habitats including coastal sand dunes with unique sand dune ecology, meadow grassland, coastal prairie, coastal willow woodland, coastal shrubland, salt pannes and pools, and coastal urban forests.

When the Ballona Wetlands were purchased in 2004, there were two priorities:

✔ Restoration: The proposed project would implement a comprehensive and strategic set of improvements such as new gates, new fences, weeding, minor habitat restoration and signage to promote public awareness, interpret the natural resources, discourage illegal access and increase opportunities for positive public use of the site

✔ Public Access: The state purchased the Ballona Wetlands in 2004, and since that time, very little has been done to control or improve public access to the site or to install signs identifying the BWER and the rules governing use of the property.

Over the years, more than $500,000 dollars has been spent on public access improvements, but almost a decade later the Ballona Wetlands remain closed to the public. All across Los Angeles, people agree that we need access to more open green space, and we agree. That is why we support gentle improvements in order to save these precious wetlands, while at the same time provide the public with access to the Wetlands.

When the state began serious planning for this bulldozing project, they locked the gates and they are holding the property hostage. All while the state gave unlimited access to the SoCal Gas Company including a key to the gate.

The bulldozing project has been in the works since 2008, and there is no immediate construction plans in the near 5-10 years. The proposed project, which is running 5 years behind schedule, will cost over $200 million and is expected to go up with delays. This project also includes a full title exchange which means they’ll be more salt water. It does this by removing the flood control levees, confining ballona creek, and bulldozes and excavates hundreds of acres of protected land and channels polluted water into the marsh.

The project is aimed at undoing some of the damage at Ballona Wetlands would bring back plants, birds, and other wildlife.  Possibilities range from removing weeds and fixing fences, all the way to re-creating salt marshes and a meandering creek to attract the frogs, fishes, birds and wildlife that call a healthy wetlands home. A restored Ballona Wetlands could be a refuge for thousands of migratory birds and an important nursery for baby halibut, oysters, and other fish and shellfish. 

The bulldozing project is estimated to cost $200 million dollars, and as of today, they do not have the funding for this project. Once this massive projects begins, it is estimated that it will take 9 years of construction. The project is called “Restoration” by the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife but it is not a restoration, it will destroy the frame habitat that exists today. It will replace a new one that hasn’t existed in years. We also estimate around 480 truck trips a day over 7 weeks along Lincoln Blvd. The reserves ecosystem will be destroyed, untold numbers of animals will be displaced including many endangered species, destroy neighborhoods quality of life, and property values for more than a decade – there will be noise, fumes, dust and a lot of truck driving (soil transport).

The Ballona bulldozing project actually denigrates public access, it does not enhance it as the proponents state:



We are in a climate crisis and need public access now more than ever. This project will harm animals living in the reserve, including endangered species that reside in the Ballona Wetlands. The state’s plan is motivated by bond money and private interests, including Southern California Gas Co. gas storage facility under the wetlands.

Project is opposed by: Sierra Club, Climate Reality, Animal PAC, West LA Dems, LACDP, and other local organizations.