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Los Cerritos wetlands get official state protection

August 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local environmentalists were celebrating Wednesday. After years of work and fundraising, a large section of private land was transfered to the public trust Wednesday. The land will become part of the Los Cerritos Wetlands, which include parts of Seal Beach and Long Beach. The wetlands are teeming with life.

From razor-edged thorns to babbling brooks to wildflowers dancing in the wind, residents and governmnet agencies have fought to preserve one of the region's last remaining tidal marshlands -- and they won.

"What it means to the average person who lives here is that in a handful of years, this area will be restored to look very much like it might have looked 100 years ago, and it will be teeming with wildlife," said Sam Schuchat, executive officer, California State Coastal Conservancy.

The 100-acre swath straddles Long Beach and Seal Beach and was acquired mostly through nonprofit organizations and some public funding. And now there's a guarantee it will remain untouched.

"This project will ensure that our kids and future generations will be able to enjoy this area as it was intended: unspoiled and natural," said Seal Beach Mayor Mike Levitt.

The wetlands restoration will also contribute to cleaner water going into the ocean and contribute to cleaner air.

A group of citizens first conceived of protecting the then-privately owned land nearly 20 years ago.

Now with the help of various conservation groups and the and the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach the open space will be protected forever.

"There's so few wetlands left in Southern California," said Elizabeth Lambe, executive director, Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust. "Most have been developed, so when we're able to protect some and preserve some, then that's a resource not just for wildlife, but also for the community, and we're very interested in helping the public get to know the wetlands, learn about the wetlands and enjoy them, so it will be a great resource for people and animals alike."

The Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority will be reaching out to the community to start developing a restoration plan for the current total of 200 acres in the public trust.

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