Restoring Malibu Lagoon
Malibu Lagoon and bridge, 1988
The lagoon at Malibu Lagoon State Beach needed help. An important wetland connected to Malibu’s famous Surfrider Beach, the lagoon’s poor water circulation prompted its listing as an “impaired body of water” by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Action was needed. That’s when California State Parks teamed with the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, the California Coastal Conservancy and other interested stakeholders.
The lagoon habitat houses a number of wildlife species, some of which were affected by out-of-control bacterial growth and stagnant, non-oxygenated water. Used as a dumping ground for discharge from nearby Malibu Colony homes and for dirt and debris during the building of the Pacific Coast Highway, the lagoon became unable to sustain and clean itself as nature intended.
With the input of scientists, local residents and water conservationists, the restoration project removed old fill, improved tidal flow and created a better habitat for the wildlife that call the lagoon home. Workers installed more than 20,000 new wetlands plants. As a bonus, the project included new interpretive features and panels for visitors to enjoy without disturbing the natural environment.
Serene places to watch wildlife were created as well as interactive tidal features like the Winter Ramp Summer Clock, a ramp that slowly floods to show the changing tides that are important to the health of the lagoon. A new “Surfer’s Express” path now outlines the lagoon, allowing surfers quick access to the beach with no harm done to the lagoon.
Groups opposing the project worried that dredging the western channel would permanently drive away endangered resident species and hurt the habitats already in place. Supporters of the project contend that new, fresh water flowing in the lagoon will encourage growth. The stagnant smell that was a hallmark of the old lagoon has abated; such species as endangered least terns and colorful dragonflies have been spotted making new homes since the lagoon’s May 3, 2013 reopening.
Years of planning, countless hours of hard work, and the input of all types of experts have made the restored Malibu Lagoon healthy. California State Parks would be honored to have you visit Malibu Lagoon State Beach.