Environment & Science

Recovery Act funding to stimulate wetlands restoration in Huntington Beach

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Federal economic stimulus money is helping to pay for a long-planned marsh restoration project in Orange County.

KPCC’s Molly Peterson reports that it’s one of nine projects in California to benefit from this federal largesse.

More than $3 million will help the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy flood sea water into dry lands to create brooks, ponds and a tidal lagoon at Magnolia Marsh, near the Talbert Channel. During a recent visit to Long Beach, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief, Jane Lubchenco, said there was lots of competition for stimulus money among restoration agencies.

Jane Lubchenco: "That $167 million was allocated by Congress to NOAA – we had an open competition – for – you know give us, local communities, anybody, give us your best ideas for projects. We were blown away in receiving 814 proposals totaling $3 billion."

The Huntington Beach conservancy began nearly 25 years ago to manage and restore more than a hundred acres of wetlands. Lubchenco admitted that restoration projects can yield mixed results. But she said federal scientists working in this area have more data to go on than they used to. She said that coastal areas are under threat in southern California – and that what happens on land affects the ocean beyond.

Lubchenco: "Land use, choices about development along the coastline, how that impinges on critical habitat, estuaries, what the flows are to the nearshore coastal waters, and I think this reinforces the importance of recognizing that there are significant opportunities to both have ecological benefit as well as economic benefit.

NOAA’s scientific programs director, Steve Murawski, says federal officials will be tracking the ways those benefits might play out.

Steve Murawski: "There is a monitoring component to each of these projects and hopefully we can tell a very good story as these things move on."

Marshland restoration in Huntington Beach will continue for several more years, until Talbert, Magnolia and Brookhurst marshes develop into more hospitable habitat for migratory birds and wildlife.