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Common ground over a besieged wetlands

November 24, 2008 |  1:05 pm

California brown pelican

After fighting for decades over its oil and land, conservationists, developers and city planners are joining forces to let the Los Certitos Wetlands grow wild again. Times staff writer Louis Sahagun reports:

Earlier this month, the city of Long Beach announced a proposed land swap with a developer that would protect the 175-acre core of the wetlands in exchange for 52 acres of city-owned property. The city would then sell the marsh to the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority for about $25 million.

It won't be easy sealing the deal. The issues surrounding the wetlands' future are complex. But at the heart of the ongoing debate is a hope that the wetlands can bounce back and become a model of restoration and cooperation.

Just in time, some might say.

The wetlands on the Long Beach-Seal Beach border at the mouth of the San Gabriel River once stretched 2,400 acres. Today, little more than 400 acres remain, including the 175-acre parcel owned by developer Thomas Dean.

The developer's willingness to consider a land swap rather than an outright sale of the wetlands -- bordered by Pacific Coast Highway, Studebaker Road and the Los Cerritos Channel -- was key to bringing the warring parties together.

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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