Wetlands • Rivers • Streams

Restoring our Wetland and Riparian Habitats

Wetlands and riparian areas such as streams and rivers provide vital functions and services in the Santa Monica Bay watershed.  These water-dependent habitats provide habitat for rare species, filter water and improve air quality, provide flood and erosion protection, act as a refuge for migrating birds, and have educational and cultural values.  In the Los Angeles region, over 95% of coastal wetlands have been lost over the past century and a half.  Our remaining systems need to be protected, and the ones that have been severely impacted and damaged over time should be restored to healthy, functioning habitats.

Malibu Lagoon

Malibu Lagoon is a 31-acre shallow water estuary occurring at the terminus of the Malibu Creek Watershed, the second largest watershed draining into Santa Monica Bay.  It receives year-round freshwater from sources upstream and is periodically open to the ocean via a breach across the sandbar at the mouth of the estuary.

In 2012 and 2013, a team of partners led by the California Department of Parks and Recreation restored the impaired lagoon, which suffered from excess sediment and low dissolved oxygen levels that threatened fish and wildlife.  The restoration team removed contaminated soil and decades of built-up trash and re-contoured the channels to improve water flows and circulation.

The Bay Foundation and our partners conduct the post-restoration Lagoon monitoring, which provides valuable data for restoration success and useful data for regional comparison.  For more details about Malibu Lagoon and the restoration project, including links to annual monitoring reports, click HERE.

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Sunrise at the Malibu Lagoon

Ballona Wetlands Ecological Monitoring

The Ballona Wetlands once encompassed an area of over 2,000 acres, stretching from Playa del Rey to Venice and inland to the Baldwin Hills.  Today, only approximately 600 acres of open space remain, and much of that area is highly impacted and degraded after centuries of development and abuse.  A once-meandering Ballona Creek was cemented into a straight, concrete channel nearly 100 years ago, cutting off most of the wetlands from its water source.  A significant portion of the wetlands – once home to abundant fish and waterfowl – was filled in to build Ballona Creek in the 1930s and Marina del Rey in the 1950s and 60s.  The Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project would revive critical wetland habitat and offer a remarkable natural space for the public’s use and enjoyment, restoring natural functions to the Reserve.

Since 2009, TBF’s wetland team has been actively engaged as the pre-restoration monitoring lead at the Ballona Reserve.  The monitoring program was developed to comprehensively survey the biological, chemical, and physical characteristics needed to inform the State’s restoration planning process at the Reserve, as well as to develop baseline information and data to assist long-term and regional monitoring programs.  For more details about the monitoring program and the Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project, click HERE.

Salicornia (Figure 3)

Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve

Fish Barrier Removal Projects

Barriers in streams and rivers are major obstacles to the recovery of endangered steelhead trout in the northern Santa Monica Bay watershed.  Fish rely on streams as pathways to move between feeding, nursery, and spawning grounds.  Obstacles such as dams block access to fish spawning and rearing habitats, and can severely impact natural stream functions and hydrology.  Restoration of steelhead trout to its historic range could serve as a key indicator of ecosystem health for streams in the Bay Watershed.

Through partnerships with land owners and agencies, TBF works to remove these structures and obstacles to improve fish passage and reconnect lower watershed habitats with the upstream headwaters.  Click HERE to view information on specific fish barrier removal projects including Arroyo Sequit Creek and Rindge Dam.

Other Stream and Wetland Projects

TBF is actively engaged with additional stream and wetland projects which range from community-based stream restoration projects such as the Stone Canyon Creek Restoration Project, to our Regional Wetland Monitoring Program. Click HERE for additional information on these projects.