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Ballona Institute Celebrates Success:

The public acquisition of over 600 acres of the Ballona Wetlands after more than 25 years of citizen efforts is the reason behind Celebrate Ballona!, a series of events being organized by the Ballona Institute.

The first of these events is a gala dinner celebration Tuesday, December 2, at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey honoring former and current state and local government figures, as well as journalists, who contributed to the successful fight to save the wetlands. Tickets are still available. All proceeds from the fundraising event will go toward defraying legal costs incurred during the campaign for the public acquisition of the Ballona Wetlands, as well as toward ongoing stewardship, educational, and advocacy programs to protect and preserve this natural treasure. celebrateballona.com or 310.823.7040.

Marcia Hanscom, co-director of the Ballona Institute, said that the event will celebrate the success of the effort that grew from six groups in 1995 to 120 groups in 2003 fighting to preserve the wetlands. The larger portion of the wetlands was, in fact, preserved with transfers of the property to the state in 2003 and 2004.

The Celebrate Ballona! events will continue in 2009 with an arts event, Expressions of the Heart, and a free family picnic honoring the contributions of artists and writers as well as community activists and elected officials.

In connection with the series of events, Ballona Institute is collaborating with writers, photographers, scientists, Native Americans, and activists to publish a limited edition Tribute Book that will be filled with hundreds of photos accompanied by a manuscript telling the story of Ballona from its birth to the present. Expected to be available in March or April, the book will be mailed to all those who attend the December 2 dinner celebration and the arts event and will be available for purchase at the free family picnic.

Hanscom said that all of those being honored at the dinner celebration (an impressive list, too long to recount completely and too dangerous to recount selectively) will in fact be in attendance, some coming from the East Coast.

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