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Malibu Lagoon makeover begins Friday; Officials brace for protesters

May 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
An $8-million dollar facelift on Malibu Lagoon is expected to begin Friday. Workers with heavy equipment are due to roll in for the six-month restoration project. State scientist say the lagoon is polluted and in horrible shape.

The project will drain the water from three channels in the lagoon in order to remove tons of sediment from the bottom, take away several pedestrian bridges and replace non-native plants with native vegetation.

"We are going to replace the three channels that are perpendicular to the lagoon with one branch channel that's focused out toward the ocean," said Suzanne Goode, a state parks biologist.

Goode says this will allow waves from the ocean to come in and routinely clean out the channel. The 13-acre lagoon is on one of the state's most popular and scenic stretches of coast, where Malibu Creek meets the Pacific Ocean at Surfrider Beach.

The state parks' controversial project to dredge and reshape the lagoon has been at least a decade in the making and pitted many residents, surfers and environmentalists against one another. The project has faced multiple delays and lawsuits. Opponents of the makeover say it would do more damage to the wetland -- a regular stop for herons and egrets. They also say it would flatten the waves at surf rider beach. Some opponents say they plan to try to prevent the project from starting Friday.

"It's disgusting. It's not only an insult to the property of Malibu, but as far as what Malibu is known for, nature and its beauty. It's going to totally take away from it and make it just like another city," said Rock Star, a Malibu resident.

Not everyone sees the restoration as a negative thing, however.

"I personally feel that it needs to be cleaned up, just being there and looking at it, it seems to me that it needs to be cleaned up," said Susanne Clark of Malibu.

Goode says the state is prepared to deal with any protesters that get out of hand.

"Any protesters that are peaceful will be allowed to protest in peace we do have our rangers on alert and they have other resources that they can draw upon if there should be any illegal acts," she said.

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