From: Associated Press
Published July 31, 2006 12:00 AM

State of California Receives Part of Long Beach Wetlands

LONG BEACH — A nonprofit conservation group has bought 66 acres of the Los Cerritos Wetlands in Long Beach and donated the property to the state, the first success in a decades-long attempt to buy and restore the entire 400-acre marsh and protect it from further development.

The move, to be announced on Tuesday, was reported in Sunday's Los Angeles Times.

The area where the San Gabriel River runs into the ocean at the Long Beach and Seal Beach border is currently covered with oil pumps, shopping centers and parked cars.

But a blue-green tide pool with bass and halibut is beneath it all.

"Everyone has broken their picks on this project for 20 years -- and now, finally, there is a breakthrough," said Reed Holderman of the Trust for Public Land, the nonprofit group that paid for $7 million of the property with public and private funds and transferred it to the state.

The Los Cerritos Wetlands are the largest privately owned wetlands along the Los Angeles and Orange County coasts.

The 66 acres were sold by the Bryant Family for $10 million.

Under an unusual agreement, Signal Hill Petroleum Inc. will be allowed to pump oil from the property even as it is being restored. The company paid $3 million of the purchase price for the right to pump, and the family donated $4 million of the land, which had been appraised in 2003 at $14 million.

The state Wildlife Conservation Board is trying to buy an adjoining 100-acre section of the wetlands in Seal Beach.

Bixby Ranch Co., which owns 187 acres of the wetlands, has not agreed to sell any of the land.

Source: Associated Press

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