Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project

Update 9/19/2022

The Conservancy is currently funding four projects related to the Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles:

  1. An interagency agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for $1,692,360 for design, engineering, and permitting associated with the Ballona Wetlands Ecosystem Restoration Project (Project) at the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve (BWER).
  2. A contract with Cogstone Resource Management for tribal engagement related with the Project.
  3. A contract for community engagement related to the Project.
  4. A grant to the Friends of Ballona Wetlands to remove non-native plants and restore native habitat along the margins of the Ballona Wetlands, outside of the Project area.

This memo will focus on project #1 – #3 above.  See below for more information.

  1. On May 27, 2021 the Conservancy approved a $1,692,360 grant to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to advance designs and acquire permits for the Project. CDFW has pursued the Section 408 permit needed from the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to modify the levees of Ballona Creek and return creek flow to the wetlands. Because Los Angeles County Flood Control District (County) manages the levees, they must submit the Section 408 permit application to the Corps on CDFW’s behalf.  CDFW submitted a completed Section 408 permit application to the County on February 4, 2021.CDFW has commenced restoration of BWER by starting Sequences 1 and 2 of the Project, which do not require a 408 permit.  CDFW has selected a contractor and begun work on the designs and permits for Sequences 1 and 2.  Sequences 1 and 2 involve enhancing and restoring approximately 60 acres of degraded tidal, brackish, and freshwater wetland area in the south and southeast portion of the reserve for the benefit of wildlife and public enjoyment.  These initial two project sequences involve removing and relocating an existing gas line owned by So Cal gas and improving tidal circulation and freshwater flows (as analyzed in the EIR).  These initial improvements will benefit endangered species. They will improve ecological function and expand approximately 60 acres of habitat for the Belding’s savannah sparrow and improve and expand freshwater and brackish habitat for least Bell’s vireo and potentially light-footed Ridgway’s rail.  With minimal ground disturbance and a focus on improving hydrology, these initial sequences will increase tidal circulation and freshwater inputs (receiving flows from the Ballona Freshwater Marsh) to an area of the ecological reserve that has been hydrologically starved from its water source for many decades and, subsequently, where steady habitat decline is documented. An information sheet from CDFW on Sequences 1 and 2 can be found at this link.

    CDFW will continue working with the County to secure a permit from the Corps and complete a federal environmental review document for the full restoration project. In addition, approvals from the Coastal Commission, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and possibly other agencies are required, and the timing of those approvals depends on the permitting agency’s process.

    DFW’s current work is consistent with the Conservancy’s May 27, 2021 approval, which authorized “design and permitting for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.”  The staff recommendation states, “This funding will enable CDFW to hire consultants to complete technical work necessary to advance the restoration design, the engineering design, and the design of public access amenities for the proposed project. The funding will also support technical studies needed for permit applications.”  The staff recommendation summarized the entire Project to date and gave a broad overview of the future of the Project. The work on Sequences 1 and 2 are the first steps in this larger Project.  The link to the staff recommendation can be found here: https://scc.ca.gov/webmaster/ftp/pdf/sccbb/2021/2105/20210527Board05_Ballona_Wetlands.pdf.

 

  1. The Conservancy has selected Cogstone Resource Management to lead the tribal engagement for the Project.  Cogstone has begun to work with tribal governments and tribal community members to provide input on CDFW’s plans for the full restoration project, including Sequences 1 and 2. Cogstone is currently planning for the first meeting of the Tribal Advisory Committee for the Project.

 

  1. The Conservancy is currently selecting a contractor to lead community engagement for the project.  The Request for Services can be found here.  Staff has received proposals from contractors and is in the selection process.

 

Update 7/28/2022

 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has selected a contractor and begun work on Sequences 1 and 2 of the Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project at the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve (BWER).  CDFW will commence its restoration of BWER by starting the project’s initial two sequences, which involve enhancing and restoring an approximate 60-acre degraded tidal, brackish, and freshwater wetland area in the south and southeast portion of the reserve for the benefit of wildlife and public enjoyment. These initial two project sequences involve removing and relocating an existing gas line and improving tidal circulation and freshwater flows (as analyzed in the EIR).  An information sheet from CDFW on Sequences 1 and 2 can be found at this link.

CDFW will continue working with the Los Angeles County Flood Control District in securing a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and completing a federal environmental review document for the full restoration project. In addition, approvals from the Coastal Commission, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and possibly other agencies are required, and the timing of those approvals depends on the permitting agency’s process.

The Conservancy has selected a contractor to lead the tribal engagement for the project.  The contractor will work with tribal governments and tribal community members to provide input on CDFW’s plans for the full restoration project, including Sequences 1 and 2.

The Conservancy is currently advertising a Request for Services to hire a contractor to lead community engagement for the project.  The Request for Services can be found here.

 

Update 6/17/2022

 

On April 1, 2022 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for consultants to complete designs and acquire permits for the initial two sequences of the Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project. These two sequences involve removing and relocating an existing gas line and restoring and enhancing an approximately 60-acre degraded tidal, brackish, and freshwater wetland.   Sequences 1 & 2 include wetland enhancements in South Area B and Southeast Area B as described for Alternative 1, Phase 1, in the Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project Environmental Impact Report and Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project Preliminary Design Report. The link to the full RFQ can be found here: Request for Qualifications (RFQ).

 

These initial improvements will benefit endangered species. They will functionally lift and expand approximately 60 acres of habitat for the Belding’s savannah sparrow and improve and expand freshwater and brackish habitat for least Bell’s vireo and potentially light-footed Ridgway’s rail.

With minimal ground disturbance and a focus on improving hydrology, these initial sequences will increase tidal circulation and freshwater inputs (receiving flows from the Ballona Freshwater Marsh) to an area of the ecological reserve that has been hydrologically starved from its water source for many decades and, subsequently, where steady habitat decline is documented.

 

DFW’s RFQ is consistent with the Conservancy’s May 27, 2021 approval, which authorized “design and permitting for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.”  The staff recommendation states, “This funding will enable CDFW to hire consultants to complete technical work necessary to advance the restoration design, the engineering design, and the design of public access amenities for the proposed project. The funding will also support technical studies needed for permit applications.”  The link to the staff recommendation can be found here: https://scc.ca.gov/webmaster/ftp/pdf/sccbb/2021/2105/20210527Board05_Ballona_Wetlands.pdf.

DFW continues to work on advancing all sequences of the Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project as they move forward on design and permitting for Sequences 1 & 2.

 

 

 

 

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