Little Mesa plus a walk bridge over the channel to connect the
parking lot with the trail on Bolsa Mesa. The Bolsa Chica Conservancy
is planting upper marsh and coastal sage scrub vegetation along the
site of the future boardwalk on Little Mesa to enhance habitat for
wildlife and to improve the interpretive value of the area for those
unable or unwilling to walk the entire mesa trail.
That's where we come in. I'm planning and overseeing the
restoration project with advice from Vic and approval from Brian
Shelton, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve's biologist.
Our original plan had been to clear large areas of nonnative
vegetation and plant natives. Sounded simple enough. But a close
inspection of Little Mesa revealed native plants everywhere. Upper
marsh pickleweed dominated the landscape. Marsh heather grew in
profusion. We found shoregrass, saltgrass and several other natives.
Finding spots that contained nothing but weeds was actually a
That certainly isn't the case with the main part of Bolsa Mesa.
It's covered with mustard and wild radish. We wondered why there was
such a big difference between the two upland areas.
The answer to this mystery is the channel that flows under the
Warner Avenue bridge. The channel was cut around 1900 to connect
Bolsa Bay with the portion of Anaheim Bay that is now Huntington
Harbour. The channel separated the western tip of Bolsa Mesa from the
main mesa and saved it from the intense ranching and farming
activities of the past century. Native vegetation flourished on the
isolated portion while weeds took over Bolsa Mesa.
In 1900, isolated dunes stretched for miles along the beach. The
Pacific Electric Railway wouldn't be built on the dunes until 1904,
and Pacific Coast Highway wouldn't be constructed until 1928. With
this historical setting in mind, we turned to Tom Talbert's 1952
autobiography, "My Sixty Years in California."
We've been told that Tom Talbert was hired to cut a channel
between Anaheim Bay and Bolsa Bay to restore ocean flow when the
natural ocean opening to Bolsa Bay silted over in the late 1800s