Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


Surrounded by densely populated West Los Angeles, the Ballona Wetlands are a remnant of a larger, flourishing coastal ecosystem that has been subjected to over a hundred years of urban assault. Ninety-eight percent of Los Angeles County’s historic wetlands have been filled and developed, and more than a century of abuse and neglect have severely degraded the Ballona Wetlands. Nonetheless, the Ballona Wetlands remain “one of the most important pieces of wildlife habitat” in the region, and they constitute the County’s largest remaining coastal wetland.

As might be expected when an important, severely endangered coastal natural resource located in a highly urbanized urban area is at stake, protecting the Ballona Wetlands has been fraught with controversy. But, unexpectedly, each of the major players has, over time, experienced reversals of position—and of fortune—not commonly encountered.

This is a cautionary tale, but it offers hope for the future. When the State formulates its Ballona Wetlands restoration plan, the promise of revitalization to a natural, healthy coastal wetlands ecosystem may finally be realized.