Patricia McPherson speaking out on The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) Final Environmental Impact Report 1/12/21

Patricia McPherson speaking out on The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) Final Environmental Impact Report 1/12/21
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) is the lead state agency which has now certified its Final Environmental Impact Report as it pursues its intentions to convert the unique biodiversity of Ballona Wetlands- a predominantly seasonal freshwater wetlands- by digging out the landscape to create a saltwater bay surrounded by fill up to 40’ for new levees and berms. This certification announces CDFW’s PREFERRED PLAN IS ALTERNATE 1, FULL TIDAL inundation. 
CDFW is working to garner organization support for its Ballona Wetlands Plan, which gives rise to a need to show organizations opposed to the Plan and to utilize the state and national campaign efficacy of the Sierra Club both in order to heighten awareness of the facts of the CDFW destructive Ballona Plan.
Sierra Club is supporting a slow, careful restoration based upon Sierra Club principals of environmental protection as well as affording the opportunity to demonstrate the alignment of Sierra Club policies with state and federal laws in place that provide protection to Ballona Wetlands and the larger CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT process itself with its attendant cumulative and adjoining landscape and subsurface geotechnical aspects of the regional planning process.   
To not do so sets the stage for, at least, the appearance of complicity with CDFW’s Plan as well as giving rise to working from arrears,  a negative gain for future approval needs that will take advantage of the failure to act.
An immediate start to the solution will remedy potential derailment of the past 30 years of Sierra Club work to protect Ballona.  
Ballona is one of the, if not the largest California wetland restoration projects. If allowed to proceed per the Plan offered by CDFW to convert a unique predominantly seasonal freshwater wetland, with multiple underlying freshwater aquifers (Silverado, Bellflower and Ballona aquifers) into a saltwater bay, will not only destroy unique habitat, wildlife and freshwater aquifers but will cost at least $200 million and render the area to industrial scale buildout, spanning at least a decade of turmoil for this extremely high risk, non self sustaining CDFW Project.
The Airport Marina Group (AMG) requests Sierra Club support for its actions in promoting a Campaign of informational support to protect Ballona from the CDFW Plan, from the LA Chapter, Sierra Club California and national Sierra Club.
AMG requests support for:
Proposal for elected to help facilitate a COLLABORATIVE PROCESS, as done successfully for Owens Valley/Lake, now a model for a consensus facilitated workshop scenario.  AMG is collaborating with key restoration experts including Dr. Margot Griswold, that were a part of this successful process for restoration.

6.16.20 Dr M Griswold PhD Owens Lake Collaborative Planning - SHORT-LESSONS LEARNED BALLONA 25 MIN.

 Conservation Policy - “Chapters are empowered to develop more detailed positions that apply to specific situations within their geographic boundaries that are consistent with national policy. “  
While Ballona is a specific site, it is also a role model for state and federal projects. (USACE has not certified or approved any of its review the Ballona restoration and, due to CDFW acknowledged flood control/ Ballona Channel hydraulics mistakes in the FEIR, CDFW must make corrections prior to handing over the corrected data to USACE—which has not occurred)  
LOCATION: Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve and its regional environs, Los Angeles County
The Airport Marina Group requests and recommends this support pursuant to Sierra Club Policies and per adherence to Public Resource Codes and Governor Orders:
We support the precautionary principle

When an activity potentially threatens human health or the environment, the proponent of the activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof as to the harmlessness of the activity. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, February 17, 2001.

AMG will provide data and information and wishes to collaborate with Chapter, state and national Sierra Club at this time of exigency and opportunity for Ballona’s protection via a Campaign by the Sierra Club.  Numerous elected have expressed their support for protecting Ballona’s historical nature as a predominantly seasonal freshwater wetland and opposition to the CDFW PLAN.
This certification gives rise to a timeframe that issues of concern that have not been addressed or adequately addressed by CDFW can be raised and require response.  This unique timeframe is one that, like the Owens Valley restoration process, that process can be raised as a positive vehicle of address to Ballona’s numerous geotechnical issues can be addressed in a very public forum. (ie. Native American Sacred Site; Carbon Sequestration, Soils Biodiversity;  SoCalGas underground storage operations; unique biodiversity with numerous plants and wildlife that are endangered, imperiled;  freshwater aquifers and ongoing diversion and waste of freshwater by the adjacent Playa Vista development site, to which CDFW is a self proclaimed board member to the oversight of the freshwater marsh system, inclusive of the riparian corridor waterway and habitat) 
The Santa Monica Bay, coastal Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve & its wider geotechnical subsurface and connected surface areas including but not limited to the freshwater marsh, Venice, Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey .  LOS ANGELES COUNTY
CONSISTENCY WITH SIERRA CLUB POLICIES (including but not limited to):  


Natural wetlands should be managed for their environmental values. All federal and state or provincial programs should be implemented to ensure that wetlands are protected. State, provincial, and local governments should adopt protective laws and effective implementation programs.

5) All proposals for development activities in wetlands should be considered to be environmentally significant and therefore must be subject to an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement, and public review. Public and private use of wetlands must be subject to the same standards and conditions and

must not involve obliteration or significant alteration of wetlands that would degrade their natural functions. Filling, excavating, grading, discing, draining, removing
natural vegetation or blocking off its light source, creating turbidity and siltation, channeling, altering inflows and exchange, unregulated releasing of contaminants, and other direct or indirect disruptions should be prohibited.

7) Unauthorized alteration, dumping of solid waste, and release of contaminants into wetlands must be discouraged through rigorous enforcement, severe penalties, and complete restoration requirements, as well as improved public education. "After-the-fact permits" must be subject to penalties and restoration requirements as well as a thorough environmental review with opportunity for public comment and mitigation requirements. 

p 63  Managing coastal watershed to minimize alteration of natural patterns of stormwater runoff.   Regional management encompasses the entire geographical area of the watershed.
Water Policy- 

1) The CDFW FEIR Alt 1 fails to adequately address basic policy issues important to SC a) Water Policy - “Water quality and water quantity are integral to issues such as energy, land use, and maintenance of a healthy environment for plants, wildlife, and humanity. Proper management of water is essential so that present and future generations may arrive and flourish.”

2) Instream flows: “A moratorium on additional withdrawals and diversions must immediately imposed where ecosystems are presently in jeopardy” 


In flood protection, emphasis should be placed not on structural controls, but on floodplain management, including floodproofing and relocation of existing structures as appropriate, and zoning for compatible uses to control future development. To maximize environmental benefits, floodplains should be utilized for wetlands, agriculture, parks, greenbelts, groundwater recharge, buffer zones for protection of instream uses, and other uses compatible with the flood hazard. Structural devices should not be used where they would encourage development in floodplains. Coastal floodplains must also be protected.

Water Inventory

Thorough water inventories, including historic water yields and uses, should be conducted of all water resources of environmental importance, with priority where substantial demands are anticipated.

Coordinated Ground and Surface Water Management

Federal, state and provincial laws should take into account the physical interrelationship of ground and surface water. Rights in both sources of supply should be integrated, and their management should be coordinated. The available water in a basin should be managed on a sustained-yield basis. Where groundwater is relatively isolated from the surface water and receives insignificant recharge, the government should determine and optimum useful life of the aquifer and control withdrawals accordingly. Controls should be established in water-short areas to ensure equitable distribution. Projects and proposals should be stopped if they would significantly damage aquifers or other natural features such as springs or caves.

 Interbasin Diversion: “There should be a moratorium on major new inter basin diversions of water until the ground and surface water interrelationships and ecological, social, economic, and land use implications of such diversions are fully understood and appropriate protection has been established by law.” 

Water Quality: “Soil conservation measures and site development ordinances that protect water quality should be encouraged. Groundwater, oceans, and coastal waters must also be protected.”

 Urban Water Systems - Guidelines for Evaluating Proposed Federal Water Project Transfers: “... transfers should be authorized and approved only under conditions that enhance the environment and provide continuing protection of other public interests, as follows:

Compliance with Environmental Laws - All transfers should comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and other federal environmental laws. 

Conservation Policy - Guidelines for Implementing this policy:

The key to wildlife and native plant conservation is the continued existence of diverse natural ecosystems and the preservation of native biodiversity. The Sierra Club is committed to maintaining the world's remaining natural ecosystems -- marine, aquatic and terrestrial. Where feasible, the Sierra Club is also committed to restoring and rehabilitating to a natural condition those ecosystems that are presently degraded by human activities.

All living organisms and their natural ecosystems possess intrinsic, spiritual, and ethical values that cannot be measured in human economic or utilitarian terms. All actions, regulations, plans and legislation that address or affect wildlife and native plants should incorporate the concept of intrinsic values as appropriate. The Sierra Club believes that preserving wildlife, plants, and native ecosystems is a moral and ethical obligation that all people share. Wildlife, both animals and plants and their habitat, are an essential component of fully functioning ecosystems and are a barometer of the well-being of the biosphere.

The better wildlife and plants can be maintained in all of their abundance and diversity, the better the habitat for all life on this Earth, and the greater the number of ecological choices for the future. Human over-population and over-consumption of resources threatens natural ecosystems on a global scale.

Habitat -- The Sierra Club recognizes that habitat simplification, fragmentation, degradation, and elimination pose the greatest threats to the continued well-being of healthy and diverse wildlife and plant ecosystems and biodiversity. Measures to counteract this trend must increase on both public and private land, and include whole ecosystems regardless of jurisdictional and political boundaries. All of society should

help develop and implement wildlife and plant conservation measures that protect ecosystems and our wildlife heritage. These measures should address, but not be limited to:

• sound land-use planning (including zoning for wildlife and native plants) aimed at preserving native biodiversity, at each relevant governmental level;
• explicit attention to wildlife and plant habitat values affected by human projects and activities;

• native habitat maintenance, monitoring, enhancement, and restoration/rehabilitation;

  • habitat acquisition across the natural spectrum of ecosystems;

  • adequate mitigation in cases where human projects or activities adversely affect habitat values, and damage cannot be avoided or minimized;

• cooperative habitat programs at international, national, state and local levels between and within government agencies and non- governmental organizations, as well as the business community, landowners, and the general public;
• provisions for natural movements of wildlife and plant populations (habitat linkages or wildlife corridors);
• provisions for specific habitat requirements, such as adequate water supplies for aquatic species;
• provisions for buffers and other management strategies to prevent conflicts between people and wildlife and native plants;
• long-range research and planning, on a biological basis, by federal, state, and local wildlife agencies, which should include public participation at all times;
• encouragement for humans to eat lower on the food chain in order to better conserve habitats and avoid pollution problems;

  • elimination of noxious exotic wildlife and plants; and

  • adequate government and private funding to carry out wildlife and native plant programs.

    Habitat Conservation Plans --

    A Habitat Conservation Plan, developed pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, is a plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of wildlife habitat. Habitat Conservation Plans are a compromise, and as such may not provide the best plan for protection and recovery of threatened and endangered species. The Sierra Club supports Habitat Conservation Plans that will prevent species extinctions; provide long-term habitat protection of adequate size and quality to maintain the biodiversity of the area; and provide adequate funding and other resources to maintain, enhance, restore/rehabilitate, and monitor the habitat over time. 

    Within natural ecosystems, the Sierra Club believes natural diversity and abundance of wildlife and native plants should be ensured by means that involve a minimum of overt human interference.
    Within ecosystems modified by human activities, the Sierra Club believes that these systems should be managed to ensure optimum diversity and numbers of wildlife and native plants to natural historic levels where feasible, with emphasis on restoration and rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems to a more natural condition.

    Within both modified and natural ecosystems, the Sierra Club believes that acceptable management approaches include education, research, census, law enforcement, restoration of naturally occurring species to historic population levels and geographic ranges where feasible, habitat acquisition and protection, and regulation or elimination of competition by commercial interests. 

Programs should be pursued to improve the water retention capacity of the land, reduce water consumption, and promote water recycling. 

Water Quality

An adequate water quality data base must be developed and existing quality higher than federal standards must be preserved. The Clean Water Act should be aggressively enforced by all agencies with water management responsibilities and should not be weakened. Point-source pollution should be eliminated, best management practices for air and water-borne pollutants should be developed, and adequate funding should be provided to implement control of non-point sources. Soil conservation measures and site development ordinances that protect water quality should be encouraged. Groundwater, oceans, and coastal waters must also be protected. No water projects that violate federal, state or provincial water quality laws should be built.

Forests and Ranges

Activities in forest and range watersheds must be managed to ensure that erosion does not exceed the normal geologic rate and that water quality and quantity are maintained. Attempts to alter water yield should not damage other natural resource values.

 Aquifers must be protected from depletion or degradation.

Wildlife and Native Plants: The key to wildlife and native plant conservation is the continued existence of diverse natural ecosystems and the preservation of native biodiversity. The Sierra Club is committed to maintaining the world's remaining natural ecosystems, and, where feasible, to the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems.

Wildlife, plants, and their ecosystems have value in their own right, as well as value to humans and to the health of the biosphere.

1) Habitat -- Habitat simplification, fragmentation, degradation, and elimination pose the greatest threats to natural ecosystems and biodiversity and must be counteracted by reasonable and effective measures for the long-term preservation of intact ecosystems. Such measures should be incorporated into decisions made by all levels of government. All society should help develop and implement wildlife and native plant conservation measures that protect ecosystems and our wildlife heritage.

2) Wildlife and Native Plant Management -- Within natural ecosystems, natural diversity and abundance of wildlife and plants should be ensured by means that involve a minimum of overt human interference. Ecosystems modified by human activities should be managed to ensure optimum native diversity and numbers of wildlife and plants to

natural historic levels where feasible, with emphasis on restoration and rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems to a more natural condition.

4) Threatened and Endangered Species -- Because of species' value to ecosystems and to humans and for their intrinsic values, every effort should be made to prevent the extinction of species due to human activities.

The Sierra Club vigorously supports strong and vibrant federal and state endangered species acts and related laws as well as recovery programs that protect wildlife, plants, and natural ecosystems.

9) Full Protection -- Some species or populations of wildlife and native plants may be so valuable for research, education, recreation, or aesthetic purposes that
they should receive full protection. Similarly, some species or populations should be protected where regulations are ineffective or absent.

10) Wildlife and Native Plant Damage Control -- Improved wildlife and plant management, agricultural and other human practices should be aimed at discouraging human/ wildlife/plant conflicts, with emphasis on nonlethal control of wildlife when feasible.

Onshore Oil and Gas - The Sierra Club believes that onshore oil and gas exploration and development should be conducted in a manner that protects environmental values. Wherever oil and gas activities might harm the environment, the Sierra Club recommends that:

5) In conservation system units and other environmentally sensitive areas where disruptive exploratory work such as drilling should not be allowed, but where leases without adequate protective stipulations have already been granted, government authorities should add protective stipulations, move the exploratory work to more acceptable locations, trade the leases, buy back such leases, or suspend them. Every lease should have a basic environmental protection stipulation requiring minimal disruption of wildlife habitat, revegetation, erosion-control measures, and protection of the quantity and quality of groundwater and surface water.

Carbon Policy for Forests, Wild Areas, and Other Lands

Goal Statement: The Sierra Club seeks to promote policies that prioritize the protection, maintenance and restoration of forests, wetlands, grasslands, estuaries, and other important ecosystems and their native biodiversity worldwide. Managing for the health of ecosystems needs to be the overarching land management goal. Protecting and maintaining ecosystems in their natural, undeveloped state will best preserve and maintain ecosystem services that we use and enjoy, as well as increase carbon pools,

and should be prioritized. Restoration practices and other active management carried out with the intent to maintain species viability and increase carbon storage should emphasize a precautionary approach that does not sacrifice known benefits of ecosystem services for experimental practices and hypothetical or low gains in carbon storage. Carbon storage and ecosystem maintenance and restoration programs should include an adaptive management provision that includes monitoring, ongoing data collection and analysis, and a review of the program’s effectiveness.

First, we must protect, maintain, and restore our U.S. federal and non-federal forests, deserts, grasslands, natural water bodies and watercourses, coastal ecosystems, and other ecosystem types, and create incentives for sustainable forestry and land and water management practices.

• Protect old-growth and mature forests and all other forested and non-forested roadless ecosystems across all agency jurisdictions. 

• Encourage acquisitions that promote restoration and resilience of our federal and non-federal forests and other natural areas. Such acquisitions should include as priorities maximum buffering and corridors to facilitate migration of species as climates change. 

  • Current environmental laws must continue to be applied. 

  • Work at local, regional, national, and international levels, without regard to 
political boundaries (such as state lines), to achieve ecosystem resilience goals. 

• Provide support for conservation easements and other programs on private forests 
and other private lands to help protect their carbon storage and other ecosystem services from net loss and where possible to increase their total carbon storage capability. 

• Every effort should be made to keep peatlands, coastal estuaries, and prairie potholes and their hydrology intact so that they can continue to provide carbon storage, habitat, and water storage benefits. 

• Management practices should be established to ease the transition of forests or other important ecosystems to other ecosystem types caused by climate change. This should include assisted migration of selected species to newly suitable areas where appropriate. 

• Federal land management plans should strive to prolong the survival of indigenous species and maintain or increase the biodiversity of current forest types and other plant communities. Efforts should be made to protect areas adjacent to large parks, preserves, and wilderness areas, especially in the directions (usually north or northeast) toward which the climate is predicted to shift in coming decades, to maximize migration opportunities. Buffering in the opposite direction also may help to delay climate impacts on the preserved areas.

• A research program focusing on superior adaptation methods must be developed 
and implemented, and the findings should be promptly transmitted to land 
managers for immediate broad-scale implementation. 

• In order to prepare for the impacts of coastal sea level rise and the resulting 
human population migration, infrastructure removal and replacement, and to develop strategies to preserve biodiversity and its habitats, we encourage an increased and coordinated land, coastal, and marine spatial planning system between all federal and state agencies concerned. 

Sierra Club Climate Resilience, Carbon Dioxide Removal, and Geoengineering Policy 4.4 Policy-Wetlands, Rivers, Lakes, Streams, and Ponds Carbon Dioxide
Below are specific policies addressing the restoration and protection of wetlands because of their role in addressing the climate crisis through their carbon sequestration potential.

1. The preservation, restoration, and conservation of intact wetland habitats should be a national priority because of their carbon sequestration potential, biodiversity enhancements, drinking water and general water purification potential, critical habitats, protection from harmful algal blooms, and other essential ecosystem services they provide. Landowners, governments, developers, and the public should be educated about the benefits of wetlands as natural solutions to the climate crisis. The U.S. should adopt a goal of restoring 60% of degraded wetlands and increasing overall wetlands acreage by 75% by 2050 to help the U.S. meet its Paris Agreement goals. 
-Porter-Cologne Act
-Groundwater Protection Act
-88-88 California Law to disallow the wasting of water