Malibu Lagoon the “Riviera of California”

May 12, 2009 by Lisa Newton

During my recent bus ride to Malibu, my first stop was at the Malibu Lagoon State Beach, a 13 acre shallow water embayment occurring at the boundary of the Malibu Creek Watershed, the second largest watershed draining into Santa Monica Bay.

“Riviera of California”

The sand-barred lagoon, just off Malibu Point, is a resting and feeding estuary for more than 200 species of migrating and native birds.

Malibu Lagoon

The Malibu Lagoon is where Malibu Creek meets the Pacific Ocean.  The beach side of the lagoon is home to Surfrider Beach, world renowned as a surfing and recreational destination and receives approximately 1.5 million visitors every year.

Malibu Pier and Surfrider Beach

On the east side of Malibu Creek, the famous Malibu Pier allows for excellent saltwater fishing, dining, and just a great view. In fact, the California State Parks won the 2009 Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award for its restoration of the Malibu Pier. The conservancy recognized California State Parks for demonstrating its "solid stewardship of this beloved public resource by reversing decades of decay while staying true to its historic character."

The Malibu Lagoon Master Enhancement Plan

The Malibu Lagoon Master Enhancement Plan

Click here for a larger image.

Malibu Lagoon has undergone many changes in its recent history. In fact, looking at it now, it’s hard to believe that the lagoon had previously been used as a dump site for fill material by Cal Trans and others in the 1950’s and 60’s.

By the late 1970’s the site was completely filled and housed two baseball fields. The size of the lagoon has been greatly diminished by urban development along the coast.

In addition, urbanization upstream in the Malibu Creek Watershed has increased the volume of water transported into the lagoon, which also significantly diminished the waters pollution.

The non-profit group, Heal the Bay, in cooperation with the California Department of Parks and Recreation under a grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy, has coordinated a massive renovation program to revitalize, revamp, and carry through with restoring the Malibu Lagoon to its past grandeur.

What did she find?

The purpose of this project is to design a restoration plan for the Malibu Lagoon ecosystem that provides the greatest benefit for both goals of an enhanced ecosystem structure and function, while still preserving and enhancing the recreational use activities.

Although the restoration is a long term civil engineering endeavor, no matter how long it will take, restoring The Malibu Lagoon to its pristine status is well-worth the effort.

Do you have any important restoration or historic preservation projects going on in your city’s neighborhood? I’d love to hear about them because out national treasures are our cities, parks, and natural resources.

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12 Responses to “Malibu Lagoon the “Riviera of California””

  1. David says:

    I’ve surfed there quite a bit, and also further north at the LA – Ventura County Line.

    It’s great that Heal the Bay has taken on such a massive civil engineering infrastructure endeavor for the public good.


  2. LisaNewton says:

    @ David I’ve never surfed, but I love watching the surfers. They have such patience waiting for the right wave.


  3. Lisa's Chaos says:

    Looks like a very popular spot! Love the plans!

    Lisa’s Chaos’s last blog post..Bright and Beautiful


  4. Paisley (Paisley Thoughts) says:

    Looks like a lovely spot worth maintaining. Surfing and bird watching must make it a very popular location. Are those flamingos? I’ve seen hundreds at a time take off in Namibia (a beautiful spot on earth). Really interesting post – thanks.

    Paisley (Paisley Thoughts)’s last blog post..Cheap and Cheerful


  5. Jannie Funster says:

    It always cheers and soothes me to see well taken-care of wetlands. As you know wetlands are sooo cleansing.

    Like this blog to my soul.

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..Ordering The Funsterment


  6. Diane C. says:

    I love your pictures of birds and people enjoying the water. A couple of years ago, Sabino Canyon had major damage from a flood following a wildfire. Much of the park was closed while damaged bridges and roads were restored. Recently, the community has been pitching in to help get rid of invasive plant species that hinder biological diversity…which would be a cool idea for a blog post. Do you ever find that there is more to write about than there is time?

    Diane C.’s last blog post..Change is the Only Constant


  7. LisaNewton says:

    @ Lisa’s Chaos It is a cool place, both literally and figuratively. The breeze off the ocean usually makes it one of the coolest places in the city. Plus, further down the beach are cool houses, multi-million dollar homes. I really want to walk that beach. (hint, hint…..:)

    @ Paisley It is a popular location. Besides bird watching (Oh, I think those are cranes.) and surfing, swimming is great, walking the beach. Plus, several days a week, volunteers conduct guided field trips for the local schools.

    @ Jannie As soon as I stepped on the short trail leading to the wetlands, I heard the birds before I saw them. Talk about relaxing…………..:)

    @ Diane C. They do have some work to do, but from what I’ve read, it’s already much better than it was just a few years ago. I look forward to seeing the future progress.

    I love the idea for your blog post. And yes, I never have time to write all I want to write. Right now, I have several articles half prepared in the wings……….:)


  8. D. Travis North says:

    That project made a lot of headway in the world of natural restoration. I’ll admit, I’m not that familiar with it, but I remember reading a few things in trade magazines.

    It’s amazing how much we are just now starting to realize about all the things we were doing wrong over the years. For example, the NJ shore (with exception of Wildwood and Island State Park) is notoriously known for it’s eroding beaches. Every year, some portion of the coastline requires sand dredging to fix the problem. And here we find out the cause of the problem: Jetties. Jetties, the piles of rocks jutting out into the sea, were originally installed to prevent such erosion. But now that we know more about fluid dynamics and the ocean currents and tide, we have learned that the Jetties actually accentuate the problem. So the problem existed because we were dumb.

    Projects like this need more public awareness outside the industry. So it’s awesome that someone like yourself is helping to publicize such projects.

    D. Travis North’s last blog post..Avoid the Creative Funk


  9. David says:

    There’s a lot of controversy about sand dredging because removing the jetties destroys the natural surf, and there’s some studies that even though sand is replace and the shoreline altered, critics say studies prove the same problems only move to other sections of the shoreline/s.

    As to the Malibu Lagoon Master Plan, it’s off-coast so its chances, once completed, are more likely.



  10. Vanessa says:

    I was just up at Malibu Lagoon last week visiting the Adamson House to see all the beautiful Malibu Pottery. The house is right on the beach next to the lagoon. It’s a beautiful spot to sit and watch the ocean, the birds, and the surfers.

    Vanessa’s last blog post..Adamson House: Malibu Tiles


  11. LisaNewton says:

    @ D. Travis North Over the years, we have created so many problems for ourselves that now need a fix. I’m happy people are finally realizing this and taking action. It will take time, but for your children and mine, the world will be a better place.

    @ David I don’t know enough about the sand and jetties issue. I’ll have to put that on my list of to-learn things………..:)

    @ Vanessa I was also at the Adamson House and took the Garden Tour. It is beautiful.


  12. A Garden Tour of Malibu’s Adamson House | Travelin' Local says:

    [...] the Adamson House is now part of a California State Park, a cultural and historical icon, and show place for the craftsmanship from and of the Malibu [...]

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