Los Cerritos Wetlands, Gum Grove Park & Heron Pointe Cultural Education Center
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Driving South on Studebaker Road heading toward 2nd/Westminster...
On the right hand side, or West side of the road you see what appears
to be a field of "weeds"...
If you crossed this "weed field" you would see it is just
a narrow heap of what appears to be waste cement with bushes and weeds growing around it.
Steam Shovel Slough, Los Cerritos Wetlands, Studebaker Rd & power plant in the background
Would you ever imagine hidden away from public view
behind this screen of piled cement pieces and weeds is this?
Very few know an actual wetlands exists among the
oil fields in Southeast Long Beach. Steam Shovel Slough is a type of tidal salt marsh, a finger or secondary channel off the Los Cerritos Channel, left in it's natural state. Much of the
Long Beach/Seal Beach area around the mouth of the San Gabriel River near the Pacific Ocean (Alamitos Bay) probably looked very similar before oil operations, development and river
Steam Shovel Slough (pronounced "slew") is the largest of only two functioning
marshes left in Los Cerritos wetlands. The second is Zedler Marsh located on the East side of the San
Gabriel River South of 2nd/Westminster. There is an effort to restore over 500 acres of "degraded" wetlands
in this area.
I've combined Gum Grove
Park and Heron Pointe Cultural Education Center on this page along with Los Cerritos Wetlands as both boarder the wetlands
restoration area, plus you can walk there. And Heron Pointe gives great insight to the history and Native American cultural
aspect of the entire area. Read on for more info, pictures and videos of the wetlands.
Please note clicking
any blue underlined text on this page will open another web page with supporting info. Click the pictures
to enlarge. If you would like to support the restoration effort learn more at the "How You Can Help" section near the end of this page, click here.
Zedler Marsh, Los Cerritos Wetlands East of the San Gabriel, 7-12-08
Zedler Marsh, 9/25/10, 1-1/2 yrs after restoration program began
Zedler Marsh, the second remaining marsh,
much smaller than Steam Shovel Slough but very nice. This is a nesting spot for the endangered Belding's Savannah Sparrow, which only nests in pickleweed seen growing around the marsh. This marsh sits on the Bryant property North
of the Hellman Ranch property which extends to Gum Grove Park in Seal Beach.
Many seasonal ponds, brackish ponds or vernal pools are also found throughout the wetlands area. Some ponds remain
even during the warmer seasons.
Fish (topsmelt) in Zedler Marsh, 9/25/10 (click pic to enlarge)
Zedler Marsh (pickleweed in the foreground) 9/25/10
Zedler Marsh, 9/25/10
Zedler Marsh, 9/25/10
Since Los Cerritos Wetlands is not publically accessible at this
time we'll mention a couple of places adjacent to the wetlands that are open to the public, Heron Pointe Cultural Education
Center and Gum Grove Park. Not only do these two parks provide public recreation in a natural setting full
of wildlife (see the observation list on the "wildlife" link), but they also serve as a small "open space buffer
zone" adjacent to the wetlands which we'll discuss later on this page.
First we will mention Heron Pointe Cultural Education Center between the Heron Pointe homes
and Los Cerritos Wetlands Hellman Ranch area. It is a nice path landscaped with California native plants with a series of interesting interpretive signs (see a few examples in the pics below), a self guided tour with great
info on what this area used to be.
Click photo to enlarge, sign at Heron Pointe Cultural Educational Center
Click picture to enlarge. Another Heron Pointe display describing the wetlands that was once here.
Click picture to enlarge. One of ten plaques at Heron Pointe, formerly Landing Hill.
A small wetlands restoration area at Heron Pointe. Click picture to enlarge.
The three pictures above are just a few examples of the many interpretive
plaques you will find at Heron Pointe Education Center, located near Seal Beach Blvd. behind the Heron Pointe homes and on
the East side of the Hellman Ranch Property and Gum Grove Park.
The picture on the left is a small wetlands
restoration called "Hellman Wetlands" behind the Heron Pointe homes and at the end of the Heron Pointe Cultural
Education Center walk. A video posted on You Tube gives a tour with a good narration of Heron Point and Hellman Wetlands.
Next is Gum
Grove Park, a narrow nature park sitting between the Seal Beach homes and the South side of the Hellman
Ranch area of Los Cerritos Wetlands. Not so many native plants here, I do wish the city would implement a native
plant restoration. Also the homes are very close to what will be a future body of water. Landscape water runoff
is well documented as a biological hazard to watersheds but proper gardening techniques can prevent this, see my "Ocean Friendly Garden" page (my own native garden project) for more info and how to make a native drought tolerant garden...without the "dead look".
Not only the ocean but all bodies of water could benefit from this residential landscaping technique.
Gum Grove Park
Gum Grove Park, 4/20/08
Gum Grove Park view of Los Cerritos Wetlands, 4/20/08
Gum Grove Park, 4/20/08
Gum Grove Park is a very good bird and wildlife watching spot.
Guided bird/nature walks are held on a regular basis. For more info see our Save Los Cerritos Wetlands Facebook Page events listing or email email@example.com Many mammals are also found in the park such as skunk, rabbits, coyotes, possums and racoons, I have
a few wildlife pictures on my Gum Grove Park & Heron Pointe Wildlife page. Wildlife watching is very good at Gum Grove and Heron Pointe, I highly recommend it. Gum Grove Park is located
in the City of Seal Beach at Crestview & Avalon Drive and is open from dawn to dusk. Parking is available at no
charge. To visit Heron Pointe Cultural Educational Center, park in the Gum Grove lot, walk through Gum Grove toward
Seal Beach Blvd., just before Seal Beach Blvd. you will see a sign pointing to the Heron Pointe path on left. See
the Google Map at the end of this page for directions to Gum Grove.
Now back to the Los Cerritos Wetlands, which
is sometimes referred to as "the Long Beach wetlands". First we'll take a closer look at Steam Shovel
Snake at Gum Grove Park (click the picture to see more wildlife photos)
Apparently these wetlands
are well recognized as an important natural coastal feature that should be protected and restored.
I'm not an expert in wetlands restoration, but it appears Steam Shovel Slough
wouldn't need as much work as many of the other areas in the restoration plan. It is separated from the
Southern portion of the area referred to as "upper Bixby" on the Moffatt & Nichol Draft Report Los Cerritos Wetlands Conceptual Restoration Plan (see page 7) by a "berm" and has a strip of land between the slough and the Los Cerritos Channel where no
oil operations exist. There are no established trails, many native plants do exist here but it is in need of a little
non-native invasive plant (weed) removal and a little trash cleanup in a few areas. The "upper Bixby" area
South of Steam Shovel/North of 2nd & PCH is where all the oil operations are located (seen in the background of these
pics) and therefore needs more work, it would benefit from oil well relocation and slant drilling techniques and
I would guess possible removal of contaminated soils from the oil operations.
Los Cerritos Wetlands lies
in the Pacific Flyway, a natural migration path of many bird species, several which are endangered are known to inhabit Los Cerritos Wetlands.
Amazing the Steam Shovel Slough section of the wetlands has remained here and continues to be a habitat regardless of all
the development and oil operations around it, already in place before environmental protection laws were enacted.
Today these protection laws apply whether or not the property is privately owned.
Egrets, Steam Shovel Slough (click pic to enlarge)
Coyote, center of the pic (click picture to enlarge), Steam Shovel Slough
It is important to note there are many benefits of wetlands on a larger scale.
These benefits include an important natural flood buffer zone, carbon sequestration and fish habitat (preventing the declining numbers of fish populations that are a food source for
people) and other economic benefits. A wetlands needs a complete ecosystem, a balance of native plants, birds,
mammals, fish, shellfish, etc. which there is plenty of evidence our two remaining marshes at Los Cerritos wetlands does in
Now to take a closer look at the habitat evidence found at Steam Shovel.
Literally hundreds of animal dens, burrows and fresh tracks surround Steam Shovel Slough. These pictures were taken
between the slough and the Los Cerritos Channel, coincidentally this is the darkest corner of the wetlands at night and the
most secluded from the oil operations in "upper Bixby" along 2nd Street. Seen in these pictures, coyote
and racoon tracks, literally thousands of tracks everywhere. Clams and snails are visible in the Los Cerritos Channel
and many different birds are seen everywhere. Pickleweed grows around Steam Shovel Slough. This area
is also an important habitat for the endangered Belding's Savannah Sparrow.
Close up of coyote track
Trails of coyote and other animal tracks
Pictured above (click pics to enlarge):
Along the banks of Steam
Shovel Slough (and Los Cerritos Channel near Steam Shovel) there is plenty of evidence that clams, mussels and crabs live
in these waters and it appears they have been eaten by sea birds and maybe mammals. This demonstrates a food web exists
here, Steam Shovel is an important food source for the birds and wildlife.
You may have heard about efforts to further develop the land surrounding the wetlands.
Now we’ll take a look at the reason why we don’t want to do this. The lighting at night alone is of major
concern which we have demonstrated below.
The picture above left is looking out over the slough toward the Southern portion
of "upper Bixby" area and Marina Pacifica at night. The picture above right was taken during daylight hours
looking out over the slough in the same direction. In the night photo notice the glare across the water from Marina
Pacifica lighting which travels a great distance. As previously mentioned, the corner of the slough far away from 2nd
St./Southern portion of "upper Bixby" area/Marina Pacifica is the darkest corner of this area and coincidentally
more wildlife habitat evidence is found in the darkest corner.
"Light pollution" is known to cause
disturbances to wildlife and noctural birds. You may recall the proposed Home Depot where the "tank farm" at the power plant on Studebaker currently sits (which residents opposed for many reasons) or the high rise buildings
of the proposed 2nd+PCH project or the attempt of construction company 2H to develop a soccer field (which usually includes tall lighting fixtures) between Loynes Dr. and Los Cerritos Channel. The increased traffic
and night light from these proposed projects all would have negative impacts on the wetlands as they are too close.
Even the Enviromental Protection Agency recommends that open space buffer zones are left adjacent to wetlands, click here to read about it (sidebar on pg 15).
The pictures below and the video
show typical ponds found throughout Los Cerritos Wetlands. It is odd these ponds had no water summer 2009, typically
these particular ponds always have water. We had about the same amount of rain in '08/09 as the previous year
when the pond remained full. This pond lies on the land included in the "Land Swap" approved by
Long Beach City Council 8/4/09. For more info on the Land Swipe controversy see the news links at the end of this page.
Click the pics below to enlarge.
"Seasonal Ponds" in Los Cerritos Wetlands near 2nd/Westminster, 7-12-08
From the Market Place you can see a pond, center of picture, 6/1/08.
6-28-09, same pond as above. Almost exactly 1 year later, no water.
6-28-09, same pond as above about 1 year later.
The pond shown above and in the video is known as "Don's
Pond". Also known as "Marketplace Marsh"
Don's Pond 12/20/09...one week after the 2nd rainfall of the season.
GIS map, created by Jennifer Gomez, shows how much of Los Cerritos Wetlands has been lost. This was originally a 2,400
If you have any questions about GIS mapping of Los Cerritos Wetlands please contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions about this page please contact email@example.com
Please note that most links
on this site are not affiliated with,a part of, or maintained by caopenspace.org but were included for further information
or interesting facts about the topic.
Next Row, pictures of Zedler
Marsh and another Los Cerritos Wetlands video (notice who the video is made by, the CSULB students who use these wetlands as their outdoor science lab). Wetlands are important to the educational community. Once restored educational opportunities could be expanded
to Kindergarten thru 12th grade students.
The next two rows of pictures below were all taken from different street view
points of Los Cerritos Wetlands. From this perspective you can hardly tell any actual wetlands are there. Many
ponds can be seen from the streets. When the entire wetlands is restored it will be huge, you could probably spend an
entire day walking around the wetlands on just perimeter trails alone. For a restoration plan map of the wetlands see the
Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust website. For those who are not familiar with all that entails a wetlands restoration, the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA)
has written a very good paper (not too technical), click here to read the document.
View from 2nd/Westminster near Studebaker Rd.
Los Cerritos Wetlands West of the San Gabriel, 7-12-08
View from PCH bridge looking towards Studebaker Rd
Apprx. 44 acre wetlands (Steam Shovel Slough) in the middle of the picture. 6/1/08
View from 2nd St. near Shopkeeper Road
Los Cerritos Wetlands near 2nd/Westminster, 7/12/08
"Hellman Ranch" area of Los Cerritos Wetlands
Overlooking the Hellman Ranch Property from Heron Pointe.
View of Los Cerritos Wetlands "Hellman Ranch Property" from Gum Grove Park
View from 2nd/Westminster near Studebaker Road
View South of Westminster/2nd St. overlooking the 66 acres owned by Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority
12/20/09 ponding on Hellman Ranch, about 1 week after rain.
12/20/09, Hellman Ranch area.
Ponding on the 66 acres about 1 week after a rainstorm, 12/20/09
Hellman Ranch. The bluff in the background is Gum Grove Park.
Pickleweed on Hellman Ranch, 12/20/09
How You Can Help ***
"Like" the ALL NEW Save Los Cerritos Wetlands Facebook Page and get updates on a
variety of wetlands related info such as Land Tours, Nature Walks, volunteer habitat restoration events, meetings, important
issues updates and more! (And page "likes" do matter): http://www.facebook.com/saveloscerritoswetlands (login required to post comments, no login required just to view the Facebook page)
the California Coastal Commission was Nov 19th 2010 and the permit was approved but with revisions to how the restoration should
the meeting archived video (choose Nov 19th 2010 under "video" complete): http://www.cal-span.org/cgi-bin/media.pl?folder=CCC Our agenda item 12a Appeal No. A-5-LOB-10-15 (2H Properties, Long Beach) starts 2hrs 19 min into
the meeting (fast forward to 02:19:05 on the counter at lower right corner). Things get interesting 3 hrs, 36 min, 54 sec
into the meeting starting with Commissioner Blank's examination of "weed abatement
Historical info on this issue: Click here to see the first staff report recommending a "substantial issue" and click here for staff report prepared for the hearing--this report is import as it contains the actions staff is recommending
to the coastal commisssioners.
This was all approved. However, it was appealed
and the requirement to replace the clay and soil cap on the property was removed. As of May 2012 a new restoration plan
was submitted to Coastal which can be viewed by the public but one must appear in person at the Long Beach Coastal Commission
office, 200 Oceangate # 1000 Long Beach, CA 90802, (562) 590-5071.
Agenda item: COASTAL PERMIT APPLICATIONS
a. Application No. A-5-LOB-10-15 (2H Properties, Long Beach) Appeal by Commissioners
Shallenberger & Wan, Los Cerritos Wetlands Trust (Elizabeth Lambe, Executive Director), Thomas Marchese, Heather Altman,
Mary Suttie, David Robertson, El Dorado Audubon Society (Mary Parsell), and Our Town – Long Beach (Joan Hawley McGrath,
Sandie Van Horn, Pat Towner, Cindy Crawford, Tarin Olsen, Kerrie Aley, Allan Songer & Brenda McMillan) from decision of
City of Long Beach granting permit with conditions to 2H Properties approved (after-the-fact) for importing 1,000 cu.yds.
of soil to re-establish and maintain cap over existing landfill (in response to Coastal Commission Emergency Permit 5-09-068-G),
and allow weed abatement and remediation, at 6400 Loynes Drive, Long Beach, Los Angeles County. (CP-LB)
---------------------------------------------------------------------- Older news articles about
the Coastal Commission appeal:
Quick un-permitted land grading background info: On 3/19 & 3/20/09 a land owner
leveled the property near Loynes Dr. & Studebaker Rd, bringing in paving materials, destroying seasonal ponds,
nesting sites of Egrets and harming other wildlife and habitat. No permits or permission for this activity was granted
by any govt agency, a violation of environmental protection laws including the California Coastal Act as this
was an attempt at development without a permit in the coastal zone. The land was graded to the point it exposed
an old landfill that was carefully sealed up back in the early 60's creating a methane leak, a health hazard for
In October '09, Long Beach Planning approved the "back permit" for the
"work" already done (after the fact permit). In December '09 this was appealed by a number of citizens
& groups. The appeal was denied but the Planning Commissioners spoke approving the permit with the condition of
"remediation"... yet afterwards Long Beach Business Journal ran an article about how this would instead be
a soccer field, not a restoration. It is important to note there is a big difference between "remediation"
and "restoration". Per our Local Coastal Plan this land is designated to become an 8.3 acre brackish pond,
not to be developed, it's not even zoned for development. Check back for updates...
3. Land swap deal
In a nutshell, the deal between the City of Long Beach and
the land owner to trade city property (which can be developed) for wetlands property to be restored.
Currently the swap will go through did go through, the city owns the piece of property at 2nd &
Shopkeeper Rd (by the Marketplace) but it is not public lands yet, the wetlands has to buy it from them.
You will see a sign on the corner of Shopkeeper Rd & 2nd Street, a conceptual picture of a restorated wetlands.
4. 2nd+PCH development, oppose an 12 story building!
As of Jan 2013, I've found no further developments on the new proposal which surfaced May 2012.
Below link to Egrets not Regrets post best describing the Shoppes proposal for
the old Seaport Marina Hotel corner.The high rise development plan for this corner was rejected back in
** Dec 2011 update ** it
appears the high rise project is dead, our appeal to City Council was a success, Council voted against the project.
Read about it here http://www.lbreport.com/news/dec11/2ndvote.htm Here is another good article written before the City voted it down, the article tells it like it is http://www.lbreport.com/editorial/dec11/ed2ndpch.htm Important note: an update to the Local Coastal Plan/SEADIP for the 2nd+PCH area will happen,
something to keep an eye on to make sure whatever updates are made are good and citizens have a voice in what is changed.
Really it's not just "a" tall building. It's about 9 tall buildings of various
heights, the tallest being 150' (about 12 stories). Recently the Long Beach Planning Commission voted to
change the zoning to allow this, to change the Long Beach Local Coastal Plan/SEADIP (which is against the Coastal Act and must be approved by the California Coastal Commission at some point, see the Coastal Commission site on Local Coastal Programs aka "LCP"). Planning approved regardless of the traffic issues it will create (2nd & PCH is an "F" rated intersection
without this development), air quality issues from increased smog due to increased traffic signal wait times (over 20 nearby
intersections will have significant increased wait times), water quality issues due to runoff from a dense development, the
night lighting issues for the wetlands, the hazard to migrating birds presented by a tall group of buildings in the flyway next to the wetlands and of course it will detract from a natural open space view from Los Cerritos Wetlands. The City
of Long Beach seeks to create "an iconic gateway into Long Beach", the zoning changes also allow tall buildings
in the entire area of 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Hwy, documents mention a future proposal to building out the Marketplace
up to 15 stories high. Basically they want to recreate another "downtown Long Beach" along the border of Seal
Beach, not good. As previously mentioned the 2nd+PCH tall project is dead; however, the zoning for the area will be
updated and could potentially include tall building, scroll down to see SEADIP update info below the pictures...
The rule (per the local coastal plan) in this area is 35 foot tall buildings. This high rise building
is too close to the wetlands, the density of the development will add extreme amounts of traffic resulting in more air pollution
and making it more difficult for Southeast Long Beach residents to get to the beach due to traffic, it's too tall
and poses a hazard to migrating birds and raises lighting concerns in the wetlands not to mention more congestion and pollution
is bad for people in general. Please write a letter to the LB City Council & Mayor, urge the city no exceptions, amendments or "variances" to our local coastal plan,
to keep buildings at the 35 foot tall limit along with any other concern you may have. Below is the view
from Gum Grove Park, looking out over the Hellman property area of the wetlands toward 2nd/PCH and the Market Place...the
view is much better WITHOUT a cluster of high rise buildings isn't it?
As a result of 2nd+PCH the City has decided it is time to update SEADIP, which is the coastal development
plan for the Southeast area of Long Beach including the wetlands. Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust has meetings to inform
the public about SEADIP and this important update which should provide the wetlands with the most protection possible...should.
Public input will be needed. Stay tuned for more and watch the Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust website or sign up for their email updates.
Join a local wetlands
group and become a volunteer. This is a critical role in preservation and restoration of wetlands--the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) has an excellent document on the importance of volunteers, click here to read this document. Also see EPA's Wetlands Protection page for more information on how to protect your local wetlands.
Since then, the wetlands land swap deal has made headline news in Long Beach Press Telegram,
The Grunion Gazzette, www.lbpost.com a number of times.
The effort to acquire the wetlands property for restoration is ongoing and has made great progress.
Basically most of the property South of 2nd/Westminster is either public owned or on its way. The area North of 2nd/Westminster
is mostly all privately owned. See the Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust website at http://www.lcwlandtrust.org/protect.htm and Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority
http://www.lcwetlands.org/ for more info.
Other Wetlands & Estuary
Pages on This Site (North to South, Ventura to San Diego County)
Although this page is written more for a wilderness area many of the same principals still apply to all open space
areas, even those found in the middle of cities. Please read my safety page at www.caopenspace.org/safety.html