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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Oxford Basin–Trees are Cut; Protesters Are Vigilant

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Several protests have occurred during the Christmas Holidays over the Oxford Retention Basin, Oxford Basin, Duck Pond. Latest was Monday.

County is removing all the non-native trees as well as those that are diseased. Monarch butterflies have been nesting in some of the Eucalyptus trees and other birds and ducks that have flown in have been disturbed, killed or relocated. Protesters claim birds need trees.

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Trees in the background, in last photo, are on the bike path and controlled by Department of Beaches and Harbors. The Oxford Retention Basin is controlled by the Department of Public Works.

Douglas Fay says Oxford Basin was mitigation for the Marina as was the Ballona Wetlands a mitigation for the Playa Vista. He has documents indicating such. Fay further has the story of it being dedicated a Bird Conservation area and the signs are still up surrounding the basin stating it is a bird sanctuary.

It is also a retention basin for water overflowing the streets.

Public Works wants to make the retention basin able to contain more water volume and is prone to make the basin a public park or viewing park rather than a bird conservation area. In so doing, the department wants to start over. Remove the trees, remove the dirt, dig it deeper, have two viewing peninsulas and have a four-foot fence surrounding the area.

Douglas Fay does not believe the basin will be sufficient for containing the water. The four-foot fence is a contention for all who live in area. Most want it eight feet.

Following is letter Fay sent to Friends of Oxford Lagoon:

Twice I’ve documented the tide gates being left open allowing salt water to enter the sewer system. Today I had a camera and took a picture.

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(Photo courtesy of Doug Fay.)

At the meeting with County officials where Friends of Oxford Lagoon asked for a phased tree replacement plan, this was before the Christmas 2014 Marina Del Rey Tree Massacre, Angela George, with LACFCD and is in charge of tide gate operation, said they do not allow seawater into the sewer system. She also stated twice that the “additional 1.5 vertical feet of tidal exchange” approved by the California Coastal Commission is no longer part of the project. The County can’t change the project without amending the Coastal Development Permit (CDP).

We recently witnessed discharges coming from the LACFCD pump house near the bike path and the strong odors that followed. Seawater in the sewer system will also create odors in the Oxford Triangle neighborhood.
Is the County intentionally creating the unpleasant smells that they promise will not happen again if we allow them to convert our dedicated Bird Conservation Area into a recreational park, or will they continue consistent with the way the County manages our most precious resources?

At 8 a.m. Monday, January 5, 2015 the County and Department of Fish & Wildlife representatives will meet at Oxford Lagoon to cut down the remaining eucalyptus trees that have Monarch Butterfly and an Osprey using the trees as habitat. Patricia McPherson, Grassroots Coalition, Friends of Oxford Lagoon, and other activists will be there demanding the trees remain. This is not how you restore and enhance habitat. This is our Bird Conservation Area.

From members of Grassroots Coalition, Friends of Oxford Lagoon, Ballona Institute:

Neither LA County nor California Department of Fish & Wildlife have recordation or consideration of this type of occurrence at Oxford Lagoon a Designated Bird Sanctuary since 1963.

Finally, New Years eve, after a very loud protest by a passerby who joined Patricia McPherson of Grassroots Coalition and others in anguished screams, the chainsaws were put to rest. Horrified on-lookers stared in amazement as Monarch Butterflies along the north fence of the Bird Sanctuary tried to fly. Unfortunately, it was a cold, rainy day. Monarchs don’t move much in cold, rainy weather. The County did not do their job getting the Monarchs safely out of the way or having a Monitor during cutting.

See three YouTube videos below: The first YouTube shows the County cutting down this healthy Eucalyptus tree as part of an “Enhancement” project. This destruction is just one of about 650 other trees, already destroyed.

Osprey & Monarch at Oxford Lagoon Destruction 2a

Osprey & Monarchs at Oxford Lagoon Destruction

Monarch Butterflys at Oxford Lagoon

OSPREY. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s California Interagency Wildlife Task Group, Osprey are uncommon winter visitors along the Coast of Southern California (Garrett and Dunn 1981). Osprey prey mostly on fish. They require open, clear waters for foraging. They are coastal birds.

This osprey uses the large eucalyptus trees at Oxford Lagoon everyday; it has been bringing its catch to the Eucalyptus or pine tree within the Bird Sanctuary.

Osprey numbers appear to have declined starting in the early 1900s. The Institute for Wildlife Studies (IWS), in collaboration with the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, has started an osprey reintroduction on Santa Catalina Island in order to return a key component of the ecosystem to the Channel Islands and southern California. The Osprey is currently listed as a Species of Special Concern by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Friends of Oxford Lagoon members drove to Alhambra to meet with LA County Department of Public Works. Vincent Yu, who conducted the meeting, gave them the impression they would halt the chainsaws on that day, December 17, 2014, only to return to the site to find them taking out mature Eucalyptus. Even the District Assemblywoman, Autumn Burke, spoke with Vincent Yu the morning of the 17th to no avail as she stood watching the chainsaw activity.

The County’s Streambed Agreement with Fish and Wildlife specifies a Biological Monitor should be on hand to avert harm to wildlife–no monitor has been present.

No work is supposed to occur when there is rain but the County ignored the Agreement the day of this video. It had been raining off and on all day.

WE believe numerous violations have occurred at Oxford Lagoon. The County’s defiance of our requests for a slower, phased approach for their landscaping project is unconscionable.

The dead bird in the video was documented during the take down of trees and brush on December 29, 2014 at Oxford Lagoon.

There is still time to save the remaining Eucalyptus. These photos were taken on December 31, 2014—the day after several Eucalyptus trees were destroyed. Monarch experts have said that a stand of trees has to be big enough and tall enough to support wintering staging areas for the Monarchs.

We know the Monarchs are using this area, please help us make sure the remaining trees are saved. Osprey also need high perches to feel secure from disturbance, to be away from people.

Tomorrow, Monday, January 5, 2015, the County tree cutters will be back at Oxford. Please help us end the destruction of this critical habitat.

CONCERNED CITIZENS CAN CALL THEIR SUPERVISOR EARLY THIS MONDAY OR COME TO THE LAGOON AT 8 AM.

District #4 Don Knabe 213-974-4444
District #3 Sheila Kuell 213-974-3333
District #2 Mark Ridley-Thomas 213-074-2222
District #5 Michael Antonovich 213-974-5555 

District #1 Hilda Solis 213-974-4111

For more information go to Facebook for Grassroots Coalition – Los Angeles, CA; Facebook for Friends of Oxford Lagoon; Facebook for Ballona Institute—Oxford Lagoon; and, Facebook Member Pages of Vegan.com.

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