City of Long Beach to Receive $2.5 Million California Resources Agency River Parkways Grant for DeForest Wetlands Restoration

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wilderness DeForrest receives $2.5 mil wetlands grantThe City of Long Beach will receive a 2010 River Parkways Grant worth $2.5 million for the DeForest Wetlands Restoration project, the State of California Resources Agency announced today.

“I am pleased that the California Resources Agency has awarded $2.5 million in funding to the City of Long Beach for the restoration of the DeForest Wetlands project along the lower Los Angeles River,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. “The funding will allow the City of Long Beach to bring river wetlands and wildlife back to the County’s Storm Water Detention Basin while still maintaining watershed protection for the local community. This project will be the longest public open space project on the Los Angeles River to date.”

The DeForest Wetlands Restoration Project is part of a larger Lower Los Angeles River Parkway Plan that will implement wetlands along the lower Los Angeles River.  This overall project is a joint project between the City of Long Beach and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. South of the project site is Los Angeles County’s recently completed Dominguez Gap Wetlands project.  Both projects combined will create more than 86 acres of functional wetland and riparian habitat along the lower Los Angeles River.  The DeForest Wetlands Restoration Project is also part of Long Beach RiverLink, a plan to create integrated open space with improved habitat and a recreation network along the Los Angeles River that will connect Long Beach and the natural river systems.

“This is a great news for the City of Long Beach.  By restoring these wetlands, we’ll be adding more open space for the public’s use as well as improving water quality,” Mayor Bob Foster said.

The DeForest Wetlands Restoration Project area is currently considered a degraded wetland with non-native species. The project will involve re-grading slopes to restore stream flow and trails for 34 acres of historic freshwater wetlands, restoring wildlife habitat, providing passive recreation with ADA accessible trails, and adding interpretive signage along a one-mile reach of the lower Los Angeles River in a floodwater detention basin while retaining flood control properties.

Specific restoration planting plans include:

Low Riparian (2 acres), Existing Native Vegetation Enhancement (2 acres), Freshwater Marsh (.10 acres), High Riparian (1.5 acres), Wetland Riparian (3 acres), Native Scrub, (17 acres), Sycamore-Oak Woodland, (4 acres), Valley Grassland (5 acres), and Vernal Pool (1.25 acres).

“This project will restore 34 acres for the DeForest Wetlands for native plants and animals to thrive again,” said Long Beach City Councilwoman Rae Gabelich, who represents the 8th District.  “Combined with the Dominguez Gap Wetlands, which was made possible by Supervisor Don Knabe, this will create a wonderful wildlife habitat and provide another outdoor experience with nature for residents of Long Beach and the region to enjoy.”

The DeForest Wetlands are located along the lower Los Angeles River, south of DeForest Park to Del Amo Boulevard and bisected by Long Beach Boulevard. Project design is 60 percent complete, with construction expected to start summer 2011.

“The residents of the Ninth District will be thrilled to know that we now have the ability to move forward with this very exciting project. Thanks to the support of the State of California Resources Agency, the California Coastal Conservancy, Los Angeles County Prop A River Fund and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, and the California Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, residents for generations to come will be able to enjoy the beauty and recreational amenities of this restored wetlands area,” said Long Beach City Councilmember Steven Neal, who represents the 9th District

Since 2004, the City of Long Beach has worked to gain public support, secure funding, coordinate with Los Angeles County and prepare construction plans for the $7 million project. The $2.5 million awarded by the Resources Agency is one of the last pieces of funding needed to complete the project.  To date Long Beach has received $4,717,593 including: California Coastal Conservancy ($1,217, 593); Los Angeles County Prop A River Fund/Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe ($2,500,000), and Rivers and Mountains Conservancy ($1,000,000 proposed to be awarded at September 27, 2010 board meeting)

The Proposition 84 California River Parkways Grant Program in the Resources Agency is a competitive grant program for river parkways projects. Eligible projects must provide public access or be a component of a larger parkway plan that provides public access. Other considerations include compatible recreational opportunities such as pedestrian and bike trails, habitat improvements,  design compatible with flood management and support facilities for conservation activities.

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