Mailbag: Mesa plan is community's gain

March 30, 2011

In April 2002, Lou Murray wrote about the Bolsa Chica Land Trust's restoration work: "We applaud the ongoing removal of nonnative iceplant on the Bolsa Chica sand dunes and the planting of native plants on the mesa because it creates more natural habitat for native wildlife….To this end, we tend to support the eradication of introduced, nonnative species because they have a negative impact on native species..."

Now, in a series of columns she's written over the last month about CPR for the Mesa, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust's restoration plan, Murray argues against restoration. So, what is it she wants? She apparently wants the Land Trust to do nothing and leave the mesa as 118 acres of predominantly non-native, low functioning weeds. For us, that's not an option.

The Land Trust is not made up of "do-nothing" people. Together, we helped save the mesa from development and now, working with the Department of Fish and Game, we've developed an innovative restoration plan that will restore the mesa to healthy, diverse native habitats that will serve all of our wildlife well into future generations.


California has lost 88% of our coastal sage scrub habitat and 98% of our coastal grasslands. This plan will bring both of those habitats back to life on the Bolsa Chica mesa. There are also plans to enhance environmentally sensitive areas used by birds of prey.

Because the mesa is such an important area, this plan is designed to be both adaptive and flexible. Only 10% of the mesa per year will be affected by the restoration. Wildlife surveys will be done prior to any work, and ongoing monitoring will ensure our activities do not disturb sensitive species.

Fortunately, the community is on board. More than 200 people attended the Land Trust's community town hall and overwhelmingly expressed their support for this plan that will provide habitat for rare and endangered birds such as the California Gnatcatcher and Cactus Wren. The Land Trust has worked closely with the Department of Fish and Game, using the best restoration science, so this project will coexist with the wildlife on the mesa.

The fact is the plan is a work in progress. Scientists, volunteers and the community at large have all had a chance to give input and make changes to this restoration project. It truly is "Community Promoted Restoration for the Mesa."

Kim Kolpin and Guy Stivers

Huntington Beach

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