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Friends of Colorado Lagoon

FOCL POINTS Friends of Colorado Lagoon is a coalition of concerned citizens working to preserve and restore Colorado Lagoon

Friends of Colorado Lagoon’s FOCL Points Newsletter No. 19

September 2013

Moving Forward at the Colorado Lagoon by Dave Pirazzi, FOCL President FOCL is currently working with the City and the Port of Long Beach to explore ways to fund the last phase of the Colorado Lagoon Restoration. We recently submitted a request to the Port to fund the design and permitting of Alternative 4a, the Open Waterway reconnecting the lagoon to Alamitos Bay, which was approved by the City Council and Coastal Commission. We are also talking to the city about using part of the lagoon for eel grass mitigation to offset marine impacts of other city projects. The eel grass mitigation would fund restoration work on the unfinished northern shore of the lagoon. The plan is for these two projects to be undertaken together and be the last major step in the lagoon’s restoration. We are hopeful that the design and permitting for both the open waterway and the eel grass mitigation can be completed by the end of 2014, allowing the project to move forward in 2015, assuming we have lined up enough funding. The rendering you see here, done by landscape architect Jennifer Zell of Zell Office of Landscape Architecture, is a depiction of what the Alternative 4a Open Waterway might look like when completed. The rendering is part of FOCL’s recently completed Landscape Vision for Colorado Lagoon, where we have documented in words and imagery our vision for this community jewel. You will be seeing more of the Landscape Vision in future publications from FOCL. We are getting ready to begin our next planting season at the lagoon. The northern shore of the western arm will be getting irrigation and plants installed this fall as we move to complete that portion of the restoration project. Check the calendar on our website for dates and times when you can get involved in plantings, we hope to see you there. All of this progress has been made possible by your continued support and generous donations. Thank you from all of us at Friends of Colorado Lagoon! Page 1

September 2013

Lagoon Habitat Provides Critical Refuge for Pollinators

Golden digger wasp Photo by Adrienne Mohan


Bladder pod Photo by Adrienne Mohan

Bees, birds, butterflies and bugs are critical to pollinating flowers that yield the farmed food we eat. Growing concern around colony collapse in bees and loss of plant diversity affecting these critters underscores the importance of native habitat at the Colorado Lagoon. Native plants adapted to thrive in this region provide opportunities for pollinators to feed all year long, even in dry conditions, ensuring they maintain their essential foothold in a healthy ecosystem.

Volunteer Spotlight

Photos by Tidal Influence

In July, FOCL hosted the Long Beach Yacht Club's day camp for a day filled with exploration and plant propagation! FOCL Naturalist Megan Roy led a group of 20 campers on a tour of the East Bank to discuss native flora and fauna, such as salt grass (Distichlis spicata) and Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias). She also led the group to Phase III to teach them about the purpose of a bioswale and to observe the Round Rays (Urobatis halleri) that have been hanging out in the lagoon. The event concluded with the propagation of Blue Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) from seeds and Beach Strawberries (Fragaria chiloensis) from cuttings. If you would like FOCL to host your group, please contact us at

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September 2013

Breaking the Surface


by Eric Zahn, M.S., FOCL’s Restoration Director A great rock-and-roll band once said, “The ocean is a desert with its life underground; And a perfect disguise above…”. After the Lagoon was dredged I became extra intrigued by what creatures may be congregating underwater and recently some of my intrigue has been satisfied. There are two excellent ways to see what lives in the sub-tidal regions of our earth. One way is to attach a SCUBA tank to your back and immerse yourself in that realm. The second way is to bring that realm to the surface utilizing a net or other contraption designed to capture sea life. For the past year FOCL has been performing beach seines to monitor the fish populations at the Lagoon. Through this effort I have been able to observe some of the fish, as well as invertebrates, that have established themselves on the newly contoured bottom. Most notably we have documented thousands of yellow shore crabs that were not nearly as abundant before the restoration. We also newly discovered the presence of the chameleon goby, which unfortunately is a non-native invasive fish species from Asia. Still, this work provides just a chance snapshot of what really exists under water. Not being a SCUBA certified person myself, I have had to depend on some impressive photos taken by a team of researchers that dove the Lagoon this July. They found that in just about a year’s time, nearly the entire soft-bottom of the Lagoon has been covered by a menagerie of red and green algae. Meanwhile, sponges, tunicates, mussels and snails have attached themselves to any hard substrates that can be found. In the past, I have been lucky enough to see octopus moving around the shorelines of the Lagoon, however, the coolest photo I saw was one of a twospotted octopus hiding away in a small burrow right next to its own souvenir golf ball. Obviously there is much more going on in the depths of Colorado Lagoon, yet it has been inspiring to get a glimpse of how quickly this ecosystem is recovering. While I do not believe that any members of the band ‘America’ were marine biologists, or ever even rode a horse through the desert, they did make an astute observation. Seeing what is living under the surface of the sea is a great challenge for us gill-less terrestrial beasts that depend on a fresh gulp of oxygen about every 60 seconds. Therefore, to help cure everyone’s curiosity, FOCL soon will be installing an interpretive kiosk near the bridge that will showcase some of the Lagoon’s incredible marine life.

Octopus with golf ball Photo by Rick Ware

Chameleon goby Photo by Tidal Influence

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September 2013


Friends of Colorado Lagoon

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage

6475 East PCH #252 Long Beach, CA 90803 (562) 261-9058

PAID Long Beach, CA Permit #25

FOCL POINTS is published three times a year by Friends of Colorado Lagoon Editors

Contributors Jade Dean Adrienne Mohan Dave Pirazzi Eric Zahn Jennifer Zell (ZOLA)

Upcoming Activities All events begin at the Wetland and Marine Science Education Center (5119 E. Colorado St. in Long Beach) For information or to RSVP for large groups, e-mail

Estuary Exploration

Bird Walk for the Over-50 Crowd

Every second Saturday from 8am-10am September 14 - October 12 - November 9

Every Last Sunday from 8:30am-10:30am October 26 – November 30

Join FOCL Educators on a walk around the Lagoon and gain a better understanding of our local wetland ecosystem.

Join Harriet Bennish as she leads a bird walk to spot feathered friends around the Lagoon. Contact for more information.

Weekend Habitat Restoration Every second Saturday from 10am-12am September 14 - October 12 - November 9 Join FOCL’s restoration team to help maintain and restore the Colorado Lagoon!

Salt Marsh Mondays Every Monday from 10am-12pm Help FOCL naturalists restore the Lagoon’s salt marsh habitat and keep the ecosystem clean and healthy.

Coastal Cleanup Day September 21st from 9am-12pm Come participate in California’s largest volunteer event of the year. We will be protecting our newly restored habitat by removing harmful trash and debris. Thanks to our partners in restoration!

Lagoon Afternoons 2nd & 4th Thursdays from 3pm-5pm October 10 & 24 - November 7 & 21 Help to keep the Salt Marsh at the Colorado Lagoon happy and healthy while learning about local ecosystems and restoring the Colorado Lagoon. Page 4

FOCL Points September 2013  

Colorado Lagoon's quarterly newsletter with sneak peak of Landscape Vision rendering of open waterway, Volunteer Spotlight, and upcoming eve...

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