The Los Cerritos Wetlands may be getting a makeover soon and the public is invited to hear more about it directly from the construction source.
The Beach Oil Minerals Partners is hosting scheduled tours of the wetlands tomorrow, Friday, through Sunday, Oct. 22, starting at the Synergy Oil Field site, 6433 E. Second St.
The tour will highlight upcoming changes that may eventually open up wetlands space to the public.
"We're getting through the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and we thought that this would be a good time to host people and educate them on site," John McKeown, president of Synergy Oil and Gas, said.
The guided tour will showcase expected wetland updates and construction timelines, although there is no definite start date for the renovations, McKeown said.
"There have been so many different entities involved — from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife," he said. "It just takes a while to navigate it all."
McKeown's company owns the areas of the wetlands north of Second Street and east of Pacific coast Highway, totaling 152 acres. Until recently, Synergy has 58 operating oil wells on the property.
Back in 2015, McKeown expressed interest in removing the oil operation from the Synergy property on wetlands, including removing the oil wells and restoring the wetlands for public access.
The proposed process would move the oil operation to a 5-acre parcel east of Studebaker Road, referred to as the Pumpkin Patch.
Fast forward two years and the draft Environmental Impact Report for the renovation project has been completed and circulated. Consultants are working now to answer comments about the proposal before bringing it forward to the Planning Commission.
Under the plan, oil wells would be stripped at the Synergy site and 50 new wells would be slant-drilled at the Pumpkin Patch site. Additionally, the Pumpkin Patch will see the construction of a two-story office building and warehouse.
Upon the removal of oil tanks and pipelines at the Synergy site, the land will be restored with wetland vegetation. There also is an old Bixby Ranch Field Office on the property that could be repurposed for use as a visitors center.
Other plans include a walking path, creating a safe space for groups and tours to maneuver the space.
Ownership of the Synergy property would be transferred from Synergy Oil and Gas to the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) as part of a land swap. Another 70 wells would be drilled at the LCWA site.
Overall, the renovations would reduce the oil footprint from 187 acres to 10 acres, McKeown said.
Beach Oil Minerals Partners will oversee the project, including the public tours happening this weekend.
For more information on the Los Cerritos Wetland restoration plans, go to loscerritoswetlandsrestorationplan.com.
To RSVP for a tour, go to calendly.com/loscerritoswetlands/open-house-tour/10-20-2017. Reservations are mandatory for interested participants.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at email@example.com.