Environmental groups battle in dispute over Malibu Lagoon restoration

Conservationists disagree over a $7-million lagoon restoration project in Malibu.
Conservationists disagree over a $7-million lagoon restoration project in Malibu. Cecile Gregoriades

A judge in San Francisco has put the brakes on a planned restoration project at Malibu Lagoon.

The ruling concerns a dispute between three environmental groups and the state Coastal Commission. It pauses a $7 million project that would drain and dredge the lagoon in an effort to improve species diversity and poor water quality.

Access for All, the Wetlands Defense Fund and the Coastal Law Enforcement Action Network argue that the project's work would have the opposite effect, and would enable invasive plants and wildlife to encroach on a sensitive area. California State Parks, Heal the Bay, Surfrider and Santa Monica Baykeeper have backed the restoration project through its development and approval by the coastal commission.

But Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith wrote that a full hearing on the dispute, already scheduled for October, must happen first. State officials point out that restoration work, if it does start up, can only happen during the summer – so now the earliest restoration can happen is next year.

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