Life is tough if you’re a wetland.
A 2013 study predicted a 1-in-200 chance of two-foot rise in sea levels by the year 2050, with Seal Beach’s Anaheim Bay at twice the level predicted elsewhere.
Then in 2016, researchers from Cal State Long Beach, working the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, determined that the Anaheim Bay wetlands (aka the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge) were in a losing battle with rising sea levels and concrete channels that no longer allowed natural rivers to deposit new mud into the marsh. In effect, the marsh was sinking.
The latter wasn’t a prediction that may or may not become fact, it was a measurable fact. So to combat the drowning of the marsh — researchers sprayed dredged mud from the bottom of Huntington Harbor to raise the marsh by 10-inches.
Since then the researchers have been waiting and monitoring the eight-acre site and now they are finally starting to see plants sprouting and invertebrates like earthworms coming back to the site.
Christine Whitcraft, director of CSULB’s Environmental Science and Policy program, said coastal wetlands are some of the most productive habitats in the world: they filter water run-off, provide a space for fish to breed and the plants absorb excess water as they provide a buffer from ocean storm surges.
Just last month a coalition of the 18 state and federal environmental agencies recently approved an ambitious strategy to preserve, restore and expand the region’s marshes, salt flats, lagoons and estuaries. The plan, outlined in “Wetlands on the Edge,” aims to more than double the 1,600 acres of inter-tidal wetlands in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Work is being done on the local wetlands and here are some links to articles about it.
- For Southern California wetlands threatened by sea-level rise, a new survival strategy (OC Register, Oct. 18, 2018)
- Wetlands on the Edge (Report, Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project)