The Ballona Wetlands ecological preserve has gained media attention and scrutiny in the face of major development this past month. Located in Playa del Rey, organizations are banning together to rally public support and awareness of the threatened ecosystem.
Bob Shanman, 65, raised $5,000 for the Friends of the Ballona Wetlands with pledges he received when he completed the 26-mile Catalina Marathon on March 13. He raised another $5,000 for the group South Bay Wildlife Rehab, a non-profit organization that cares for injured native wildlife. The marathon runs from Two Harbors to Avalon throughout the interior of the Island of Catalina.
“I chose Catalina because my hiking friends do it every year, and I felt it would be a great challenge at 65,” Shanman said. “South Bay Wildlife Rehab has always been our primary charitable group, but I thought the Friends were equally valuable recipients.”
Friends of Ballona Wetlands formed in 1978 to protect and defend the wetlands in an effort to provide crucial habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife. The organization works in partnership with the California Department of Fish & Game and the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority. The Ballona Wetlands 600 acres of State-owned ecological preserve are the remnants of a system that once covered more than 2,000 acres.
Shanman and his wife, Roberta, have been Friends of Ballona Wetlands board member since the foundation in 1978. He is also the owner of Torrance’s Wild Birds Unlimited store. During a day of bird watching at the wetlands in 1995, he decided to quit his career as a civil engineer and open the shop in honor of his true passion.
“I had to find a job that involved birds, kids, nature, education and photography,” he said. His store has won numerous awards, such as one of the “101 Best Stores” for Los Angeles Magazine and recycling awards from the state. The store also sponsors bird feeders at the Los Angeles Zoo, the L.A. County Museum of Natural History, and the California Science Center.
Birds are just one of the many native animals that find solace at the wetlands. Threatened and endangered species have been found on the lands. Friends aims to restore and preserve every inch of the natural marshes.
Friends released this Monday the inaugural edition of the “Ballona Blog” as the “go-to” source about our local wetlands preservation and restoration, and about wetlands nationally and worldwide, as well include as poetry and essays about wetlands, and local Ballona Valley history. Information about the organization, including IRS filings and major donors, remains available from us as always.
Friends Co-Executive Director Lisa Fimiani said in a press release, “One of our priorities will be to highlight the many successful and continuing restorations of wetlands habitat throughout California and around the world. Through the use of sound science and community engagement, direct wetland restoration efforts, including those that make effective use of the newest, environmentally sensitive engineering technologies, have shown time and again to be the best means to restore native habitat.”