The Destruction of Malibu Lagoon

Monday, June 4, 2012 marked the beginning of the end for Malibu lagoon. The State of California has seen fit to begin bulldozing the lagoon in an effort to “restore” natural vegetation and animal life, and also to improve the circulation of water through the area to increase the oxygen levels in the water. Having lived in Malibu for some 20 years, and always having loved the lagoon for its beauty and tranquility, I have to question what the State plans to gain from the effort. Instead of the soft earth paths and quaint wooden walking bridges, the lagoon will be given the usual “Tom Sawyer’s Island” treatment: Concrete walking paths, fake stone bridges and those stupid “interpretive” billboards that over time are left to be sun bleached and vandalized.

The lagoon on Wednesday, drained and scraped of life

The protesters who for weeks have held a vigil at the entrance to the lagoon’s public parking lot did a heroic job in letting passersby — and the Malibu City Council — know that this project will not go unremembered. Our city council members claim that the lagoon is in the State’s jurisdiction and that nothing could be done to prevent the project’s go-ahead. As with so many other development efforts in Malibu, this one seems to be surrounded in more baffling layers of mystery than most. All we locals know now is that the lagoon has been stripped, thousands of birds, including the Great Blue Herons so popular with bird watchers, White Egrets, the Tidewater Goby (a truly endandered species) and millions of frogs, lizards and other critters are gone. The state made a show of trying to capture some of the birds and fish for “relocation” but the reality is that they were simply bulldozed out of their homes.

Another disgusting aspect and one that I’m sure the City Council is aware of, is the sheer level of e Coli and other nasty bacteria that the “revitalization effort” has introduced into the already heavily (can you say “F”?) polluted Surfrider beach. I’m not surfing at the world’s most revered break for the foreseeable future, knowing that I’m essentially swimming in raw sewage. It’s hard to get a worse grade than “F’ when it comes to water quality, but somehow the State has pulled it off. I will be amazed if they don’t post hazard signs at the beach for the next few years, and if they don’t I hope the State has earmarked a few million for the class-action lawsuits to follow from all new cases of hepatitis and cholera that will be the result of letting people swim in this muck.

Why couldn’t the state instead put more effort into stemming the horrific flow of effluent from the Tapia canyon, which drains major inland communities like Agoura and Calabasas directly into the lagoon? Of course, that would have been too big a legislative effort, requiring coordination and tax input from two separate counties. Imagine the horror. Red tape and endless legislative debate will always win out over nature and what’s best for the planet.

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