By Sam Skopp
On Saturday, July 16, Heal the Bay hosted a daylong event titled Meet the Wetlands, which included a myriad of eco-friendly activities aimed to educate participants about Marina Del Rey’s Ballona Wetlands. The event was part of a larger clean-up effort that also saw volunteers leave “Nothin’ But Sand” on Toe’s Beach.
The Wetlands event included a creek cleanup in which volunteers collected trash from the creek in buckets, a guided beginners birding tour, and a mini-festival which included activities for children and educational talks about the importance of the wetlands.
Patrick Tyrrell, who is the manager of Habitat Restoration and Upper Education for event co-sponsors Friends of Ballona Wetlands, explained that, with the exception of the Malibu Lagoon, the Ballona Wetlands are the last undeveloped coastal wetlands in the country. Since they’re connected to storm drains throughout Los Angeles, a lot of refuse from the city is brought directly into the wetlands.
“It’s really important for people to see just how bad of a problem it is,” Tyrrell said.
Rod Abbott, who is the Watershed Programs Coordinator for the Bay Foundation, explained to a crowd of attendees how wetlands essentially serve the same purpose as kidneys, and that one reason that damage to New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina was so bad was due to impacted wetlands.
“This to me is the most important project in L.A. County,” Abbott said.
Abbott and other volunteers, from LA Waterkeeper and Surfrider South Bay, explained that other reasons wetlands are worth preserving include recharging groundwater, acting as a habitat for young fish and birds, sustaining native plant-life, and producing fresh air.
For more information about Friends of Ballona Wetlands, visit ballonafriends.org.