MALIBU (CBS) — A proposed $8 million restoration project aimed at cleaning up pollution at the Malibu Lagoon was under fire Wednesday from critics who fear the effort will only make things worse.

KNX 1070’s Bill Polish reports both residents and wildlife experts are warning of a financial boondoggle that will do little to preserve the lagoon’s ecosystem.

The project — which could get underway as early as June 1 — would scoop out sediments, reshape the banks and plant new vegetation in that supporters claim will improve oxygen circulation as well as the lagoon’s overall health.

But in letter on May 11 addressed to the California Coastal Commission, city manager Jim Thorsen voiced concerns over a “fatal flaw” in the restoration effort’s viability, citing a lack of detail on plans to empty the lagoon in order to install an interior dike.

Resident Carol Moss, who lives next to the lagoon, called the project a “horrendous waste of money”.

“It’s like our little Walden Pond, it’s a treasure, all year round the wildlife is just excellent and the way it’s contoured now and the way you walk it now, you walk right in the habitat, I’ve been there and I’ve seen people just lined up at the bridges looking at the ducks, looking at the birds, photographers from all over the world coming to photograph,” said Moss.

An estimated $9.5 million out of a project state budget shortfall of $22 million is accounted for in the Malibu Lagoon project alone after state lawmakers approved $11 million in cuts to state parks in the coming fiscal year.

Marcia Hanscom with the Wetlands Defense Fund said in addition to the economic cost, she fears that nesting birds, baby rabbits, and baby ducks will be among the project’s victims.

“This is not a gardening project or a fish bowl, this is a habitat where you’ve got literally millions of species and critters in the mud, and in the water column, you just can’t really rescue that many species,” said Hanscom. “It’s going to be a big mess.”

Lagoon supporters have threatened possible civil disobedience if restoration plans move forward.


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