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Natural Perspectives: Land Trust finally calls public meeting

March 09, 2011|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • The same tarplant by the walkbridge was found pulled out after a Bolsa Chica Land Trust work party on May 16, 2010. The dead tarplant was photographed on May 16, 2010 after their work party had left the area.
The same tarplant by the walkbridge was found pulled out… (Lou Murray, HB Independent )

The Bolsa Chica Land Trust and California Department of Fish and Game are finally holding a public meeting where they will present their plan for the Bolsa Chica mesa.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Huntington Beach Central Library. As we're sure you're aware, Vic and I are opposed to many of the features of this "restoration" plan.

It really ought to be called a development plan. It features heavy equipment, grading, disking the soil, installation of solar panels and a wind turbine, hordes of people impacting the wildlife on the mesa, plant nurseries and huge compost piles to decompose 500 tons of mesa plants each year. In my opinion, this constitutes a development project. Note that DFG and the Land Trust are required to have a coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission.

Thursday will be the first real opportunity that the public has had to comment on the plan. Yes, I'm aware that the concept plan was presented in a town hall meeting about nine months ago. But it was only a concept plan.

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That was the first look at the plan that anyone outside DFG and the Land Trust inner circle was afforded. With no prior information, it was certainly not an opportunity to ask meaningful questions. I was waiting to comment at the public scoping hearings that I was sure that DFG would convene. But no such meetings were held.

The topic of the plan also never came up at the Bolsa Chica work group meetings that are held every two months. Local DFG biologists Kelly O'Reilly and Carla Navarro attend those meetings, as do representatives from the Amigos de Bolsa Chica, Bolsa Chica Conservancy and the Land Trust. That would have been a good venue for presentation and discussion of the plan. But no such mention of the plan occurred.

This plan was prepared essentially in secret and submitted to the Coastal Commission with only a tiny notice in a Sunday newspaper. Stakeholders were not notified, as is required by California Environmental Quality Act.

This lack of public involvement also flies in the face of the Memorandum of Understanding between DFG and the Land Trust. A sentence in this MOU states, "The restoration plan will be based on the best available science, incorporate technical scientific expertise, and will be developed through a public planning process that allows stakeholders to provide input and comment on restoration planning."

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