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Los Cerritos Wetlands is set for restoration

Published 4/10/2009 on Press Telegram

The torn terrain at the sensitive habitat near Los Cerritos Wetlands is set for some repair work.

On Thursday, Sean Hitchcock, owner of the parcel at Loynes Drive and Studebaker Road, informed City Hall officials that he had an emergency permit issued by the state Coastal Commission.

The permit authorizes the import of 1,000 cubic yards of dirt to cap any exposed landfill property, according to orders from the state Integrated Waste Management Board. This order is in response to the recent grading that exposed a buried landfill at the site, leading to concerns over air quality.

Hitchcock reportedly will start the work on Monday. He expects it to be finished by the end of the week, meeting an April 17 deadline set by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

In addition to Hitchcock's effort, there will be other work done at Los Cerritos Wetlands.

It most likely will have the blessing of the state Coastal Commission because it's a protocol that emphasizes sensitivity to wetlands' fragile ecosystems.

No heavy-machine earth-movers. No asphalt mounds.

A staff report to the commission demonstrates the serious nature of the endangered habitat:

"All weed abatement, tree trimming, non-native tree removal, and ongoing maintenance of open space areas shall be supervised by a qualified biologist or wetland ecologist to follow all codes or regulations of the state Department of Fish and Game, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

"Tree trimming and non-native tree removal shall take place only outside of bird breeding and nesting season, which is Jan. 1 through Sept. 30. The trimming or removal of any tree that has been used for breeding and nesting within the past five years is prohibited.

"Prior to tree trimming or removal of any tree, a qualified biologist or ornithologist shall survey the trees … to detect nests and submit a survey report to the permittee … the Audubon Society and the executive director of the Coastal Commission. …

"No bird nests shall be disturbed. Trimming may not proceed if a nest is found and evidence of courtship or nesting behavior is observed at the site. In the event that any birds continue to occupy trees during the non-nesting season, trimming shall not take place until a qualified biologist or ornithologist has assessed the site, determined that courtship behavior has ceased, and given approval to proceed within 300 feet of any occupied tree.

"No California native trees shall be removed. All existing native vegetation shall be protected.

"Tree trimming and non-native tree removal shall be done using only hand operated equipment only (e.g., machetes, weed whackers and chain saws). No herbicides shall be used.

"Weed abatement activities shall take place outside of the marsh bird nesting season, which is Feb. 1 through Aug. 31.

"Prior to weed abatement and removal of any plant material, a qualified biologist or ornithologist shall survey the project site to detect nests."

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