News Details

Money will fund improvements to the Bolsa Chica Interpretive Center and help build a pedestrian bridge.

By MICHAEL ALEXANDER
The Huntington Beach Independent

July 11, 2007

The Bolsa Chica Conservancy serves thousands of visitors a year who take its tours, feel sea creatures in its touch tank, and learn about wetlands ecology in its many classes. But a recent remodel to its Interpretive Center cost a lot, as will a planned bridge to get visitors there more safely. That's why county officials have come to the rescue.

The conservancy and the Orange County Board of Supervisors announced a $400,000 grant to the organization last week. The money will fund improvements to the recently reopened Bolsa Chica Interpretive Center and help build a pedestrian bridge across Warner Avenue.

"We're really excited about it," conservancy Executive Director Grace Adams said. "It's going to go a long, long way, and it certainly will help us with the different offerings that we have here at the interpretive center."

The County Board of Supervisors voted in November to send some money to the Bolsa Chica Conservancy, but only now have the final details been worked out.

"Among my commitments to my constituents in the second district is to their safety and to the protection of environmental resources like the Bolsa Chica wetlands," County Supervisor John Moorlach said in a news release. "The Bolsa Chica Conservancy has demonstrated a strong track record in increasing public awareness and preserving the wetlands at Bolsa Chica through its interpretive center, their education and habitat restoration programs."

The bridge, which the California Department of Fish and Game plans to build but has hit budget shortfalls, still needs more money on top of the grant. It's important because about 20,000 cars travel Warner Avenue daily, Adams said.

Her group and others who tour the wetlands have to take visitors in careful single file along the road to the entrance.

"It's amazing there haven't been any accidents, given the amount of traffic that goes through here," Adams said. "Thank goodness."

The conservancy, private companies and other groups like the Bolsa Chica Land Trust are still trying to come up with more bridge funding before some state money expires in December. Donors for the effort are definitely still welcome, Adams said.

This grant comes at just the right time for the center and the organization, Adams said. Ever since workers opened an inlet to the ocean for the first time in 100 years last summer, public interest has shot up.

"Year after year we count close to 6,000 visitors who come to the center," she said. "As of last week, we've already counted 4,600, and we're barely halfway through the year."