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A banner day for the Bolsa Chica

October 14, 2004

VIC LEIPZIG AND LOU MURRAY

Last Thursday marked a momentous occasion for the Bolsa Chica. Many

of us participated in a ceremonial ground-breaking for the

restoration project that will bring life-giving seawater back to the

dried portion of the Bolsa Chica for the first time in more than a

hundred years.

The event signaled a real beginning to restoration, an event that

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so many of us have labored for over so many years. It's almost hard

to believe that it's finally happening. This battle has gone on for

30 years, which is half of our lives for many of us.

It was good to see so many people at the ceremony who have waging

this fight since the beginning, people like Linda Moon, Charles

Falzon, Loraine Faber, Herb Chatterdon, Shirley Dettloff, Mary Ellen

Houseal, Adrianne Morrison, Ruth Bailey, Dave and Margaret Carlberg,

Ralph and Charlene Bauer, and Peter and Cathy Green. Vic and I were

Johnny-come-latelies in this crowd, since we've been involved in the

battle for only a little over two decades.

We moved to Huntington Beach because of the Bolsa Chica.

Postdoctoral fellowships at University of California at Irvine for

Vic and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for me brought us to Southern

California in 1981, but it was the beautiful Bolsa Chica that caused

us to put down roots in Huntington Beach.

We had enjoyed coastal birding in Connecticut when we were in

graduate school. The thought of living so close to this birding

paradise was thrilling, so we searched for a home here instead of

Westminster or Costa Mesa. We thought that a community that had the

foresight, wisdom and environmental conscience to preserve this

fabulous marsh would be a great place to live. Little did we know at

the time that the Bolsa Chica was far from saved.

At the time, we were unaware of just how new that restored section

of the Bolsa Chica really was. The California Department of Fish and

Game had re-contoured the land, created two sand islands for tern

nesting and built the walk bridge across the marsh only three years

before our arrival.

It was on one of our first birding forays to the newly restored

portion of the Bolsa Chica that Vic met Margaret Carlberg, who

informed him of the Amigos de Bolsa Chica and their fight to save the

rest of the Bolsa Chica wetlands. Only 300 acres of that vast salt

marsh were really saved, and only about half of that had been

restored to tidal flushing. The vast majority of the wetland acreage

was slated to become housing and a marina. We were horrified.

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