An Adaptive Approach
We are glad that the responsible state agencies have acknowledged the need for an adaptive approach to any restoration activities in order to minimize the impact on existing wildlife and to learn from, and adapt to, any unanticipated project outcomes before the entire ecosystem has been permanently altered. However, it also seems reasonable to expect that a truly adaptive approach would would first measure the natural resiliency of the ecosystem in order to provide a more accurate baseline against which to measure the incremental benefits of the project.
To use a medical analogy, it seems backward to push for surgery before at least considering what could be accomplished with better diet, exercise or even medication. Except in life threatening situations, these less intrusive options do not preclude surgery at a later date. The surgery itself, however, is irreversible. While the Ballona Wetlands may indeed be in a degraded state of health, they are not in a life threatening situation. They provide habitat for a wide range of native species. Other local and non-intrusive restoration efforts have clearly demonstrated that existing biodiversity can be further improved, such as efforts to preserve the El Segundo Blue Butterfly. What’s more, the case for large scale habitat conversion will be stronger if these less intrusive measures are given a chance to succeed first and fall short of expectations.