Environment & Science

Tight budgets kill local fireworks, but may save birds

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This Independence Day marks the final year for fireworks in Marina del Rey and Torrance. Some conservationists are particularly happy about the end of one display.

The city of Torrance has run its own fireworks show since limits on private fireworks took effect 28 years ago. These days, Torrance spends $150,000 on the Fourth – not only to light up the skies over Wilson Park but to pay overtime for public safety officers who manage the show.

Marina del Rey's fireworks display is a longstanding tradition. For twenty years, crowds at Fisherman's Village and Burton Chace Park have watched the show launched from a barge in the channel.

In recent years, bird monitors at and around the Ballona Wetlands have turned their eyes from the skies to the habitat in which coastal birds live. Marine bird rescue groups documented dead birds the day after fireworks, and took pictures of birds they claim suffered shock and fright from the noise and lights in the sky.

They even asked state coastal commissioners to stop or limit the fireworks show. The state found the risk an acceptable one. But ultimately, Marina del Rey and Torrance couldn’t risk spending more money on the displays – and that’s assured bird conservationists that a reprieve is likely next year.