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Malibu Lagoon restoration may proceed, Coastal Commission says

Malibu Lagoon restoration will proceed
The California Coastal Commission has denied a request by environmental activists to halt a controversial project underway to restore Malibu Lagoon. 

Marcia Hanscom, head of the Wetlands Defense Fund, sought to stop the project on the grounds that California State Parks had submitted incomplete and erroneous information. 

The coastal panel ruled Wednesday there was no evidence that had occurred.

The unanimous vote at a hearing in Santa Cruz came after the agency's executive director, Charles Lester, determined that activists' claims about the project were "indisputably without merit."

Hanscom heads two groups that unsuccessfully sued the Coastal Commission to stop the lagoon project after the panel approved it unanimously in 2010. Work on the four-month project began in June.

The plan to reshape the lagoon's pollution-choked channels and cleanse its oxygen-deprived waters dates back more than a decade but has become a local controversy in recent years.

An alliance of surfers, environmental activists, Malibu locals and celebrities has rallied against the project, saying it will destroy the lagoon's existing wildlife and flatten waves at Surfrider Beach, a world-famous surf spot.

Government officials, scientists and prominent environmental groups backing the project say it will save the wetlands, create a viable ecosystem with water flowing in and out again, support more plants, birds and fish and have no effect on surfing.

California State Parks Angeles District Supt. Craig Sap said in a statement that "the commission vote solidifies our position that this project will repair decades of damage to the wetlands at the lagoon and reestablish natural processes that support cleaner water and healthier wildlife."

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--Tony Barboza

Photo: A brown pelican takes flight near Malibu Lagoon. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

 
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