wetlands panaroma (copy)

A portion of the Los Cerritos Wetlands.

Restoration of the Los Cerritos Wetlands in east Long Beach long has been a goal of officials and advocates alike.

The Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority — a joint powers governing group — has taken the lead in the long-term planning for that restoration, and already has approved a conceptual restoration plan for the 500 acres of remaining wetlands area.

Now a program Environmental Impact Review is near completion. Both the EIR progress and the restoration plan will be discussed next week at a public meeting — 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Recreation Park Community Center, 4900 E. Seventh St.

Senior consultant Daniel North of Tidal Influence said this EIR is an overview of what it would take to restore the entire wetlands — it is not specific to the Beach Oil Minerals land swap for the northern portion of the wetlands.

"This talks about the southern portion as well," North said. "It's a high-level view; not down to the nitty-gritty. It's a really good beginning to look at the whole of the wetlands and what's feasible."

Consultants are nearly finished with technical reports to include with the EIR, North said, but it isn't ready for public comment yet. The draft could be released in March for review.

The Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) is the public agency responsible for the wetlands. It is made up of Long Beach, Seal Beach, the State Coastal Conservancy and the San Gabriel Rivers and Mountains Conservancy.

LCWA already has title to portions of the wetlands. It first acquired 72 acres in 2006, and another 100 acres in 2010.

In 2018, the LCWA board approved a land swap that would give the public 150 acres of restored wetlands in exchange for two plots totaling 12 acres. Beach Oil Minerals plans to consolidate oil drilling on those 12 acres.

The trade isn't complete; negotiations to create a "mitigation bank" for the restoration project continue. However, the state Coastal Commission has approved the deal.

Next Thursday's meeting will provide description of the conceptual restoration plan and explain the ongoing CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) process.

The meeting will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The community center is on the south side of Seventh Street, near the Recreation Park "Little Rec" golf course.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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