At this time the Los Cerritos Wetlands faces numerous and complex challenges. In addition to engaging in the proposed oil drilling project, the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority’s Los Cerritos Wetlands Restoration Project PEIR proposes to bulldoze, flood, and/or bury the existing ecosystem. The City of Long Beach and the Coastal Commission have approved SEASP, a rezoning of the area will allow seven story mixed use buildings to border the wetlands. These projects have all been promoted as benefiting both the wetlands and the community. We disagree. Drilling for 200 million barrels of oil along a major earthquake fault, bulldozing and digging trenches in existing ESHA areas where burials and cultural artifacts are likely to be located, and moving thousands of new residents into the area will forever alter the Los Cerritos Wetlands. The Coastal Commission must approve both the restoration and a mitigation wetlands mitigation bank that will allow an oil company to profit from selling credits for its own destructive restoration project. The only remaining ancient salt marsh in Southern California, habitat on which migratory birds and wildlife depend, tribal burial and ceremonial areas, ground water and waterways are all at risk. Other environmental groups, two cities, multiple state agencies, and public officials have all aligned themselves with the oil companies seeking to protect and expand their operations on and around the Los Cerritos Wetlands.
The Los Cerritos Wetlands Task Force will hold regular meetings open to the general public. All task force members may participate in the decision making process. Decisions will be approved by a majority of those participating in the process and/or voting.
Founders (Sierra Club members)
Anna Christensen, Conservation Chair for Long Beach Area Group, Ann Cantrell, former Conservation Chair of both the Long Beach Area Group and of El Dorado Audubon, Rebecca Robles, co-founder of Sierra Club's Native American Sacred Sites Task Force, Captain Charles Moore, founder of Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Virginia Bickford, Board of Directors, California Cultural Resources Protection Alliance, and Karen Harper, Board Member of the Long Beach Area Peace Network
The Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club has been working to protect the Los Cerritos Wetlands for twenty years, By 2000, Dr. Gorden LeBedz, Chair of the Los Angeles and Orange County Chapters of the Sierra Club, Bruce Monroe, and Don May had formed the original Sierra Club Los Cerritos Wetlands Task Force. Along with Marcia Hanscom, director of the Wetlands Action Network, they advocated for public acquisition, preservation, and restoration of the wetlands. Together with El Dorado Audubon and California Earth Corps, the Task Force helped to form the Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust which succeeded in blocking a huge glass Home Depot Design Center on the edge of the wetlands. Sierra Club and its members have continued to advocate for the Los Cerritos Wetlands. In 1996, Marcia Hanscom worked to organize opposition to the Hellman Ranch development. The golf course proposed for the wetlands was blocked but not the housing development where burials were unearthed. Most recently, the Long Beach Area Group and the Angeles Chapter opposed the Los Cerritos Wetlands Restoration and Oil Consolidation Project at the City and at the Coastal Commission.
Statements by Tongva and Acjachemen tribal Leaders about the Los Cerritos Wetlands (made in opposition to the Los Cerritos Wetlands Restoration and OIl Consolidation Project)
"The Los Cerritos Wetlands Restoration and OIl Consolidation Project is a continuation of the genocide that is happening everywhere. This land is sacred, it should not be built on. Many of us are saying it, not just one or two, and we keep saying it. It is our creation spot. We say it but the needs of others get priority. We are the canary in the coal mine. Since the first contact with Europeans in 1779, almost 250 years ago, everything has changed. Somehow, someone has to acknowledge that this is sacred land, including the only ancient salt marsh left. We’re saying NO! This will harm people, we will not continue to exist. We go to these sites, they are the last natural places in Puvungna and Motuucheyngna. This is our birthright, to be able to walk on the land, to put our tule boats in the water, to see the stars, Our Ancestors are native to this place and have lived here for tens of thousands of years. It is our responsibility to care for this land, and we don’t take it lightly. This is our Standing Rock." Rebecca Robles, Acjacheme n, United Coalition to Protect Panhe, Protect the Long Beach/Los Cerritos Wetlands Coalition
"We are the natural people of the land and we consider this our duty, historically. It is very challenging but we will do what we have to do. There’s got to be some kind of authority. People know what is happening to the land. We fought them at Hellman Ranch, at Bolsa Chica, at Banning Ranch. There are burials in oil tank farms, human remains have been found on active oil drilling sites, when new pipelines were being laid (in 1999 at the Arco Refinery in Carson, and at Hellman Ranch as well). I keep repeating myself, the evidence is there. We’re saying that the Los Cerritos Wetlands constitutes a Tribal Cultural Property. Puvungna was a community, a spiritual gathering place for many tribes, birthplace of Chingishnish, lawgiver and god. Anything and everything within this area must be treated with due diligence." Chief Anthony Morales, Tribal Chair of the Gabrielino/Tongva Band of Mission Indians
"We use sacred sites to have a connection to the ancestors. Now we’ve been squeezed by buildings, and roads, and oil, stripped of these places we depend on. We always hear that “there are not enough cultural resources” to protect a site. Burials (six burials are a cemetery), cog stones, salt marshes, make this area sacred. I would not support any development on any area that we pray on or consider sacred. It is very frustrating. We are constantly struggling to keep these parcels of land in a natural state. We get very few wins when it comes to land, look at them. Allow people to have these sacred sites." Gloria Arellanes, Tongva, member of the Tiat Society and Gabrielino/Tongva Band of Mission Indians
"The salt marsh needs to be protected. How ironic, that we sell oil to other countries and buy it from other countries. We won’t have “America the Beautiful” if we continue to tear it apart at the people’s expense. We, the people, pay for other peoples’ oil. They are just about tearing, tearing, tearing. Constantly tearing up the land, constantly coming to us to take more and more minerals out of the earth." Julia Bogany, Cultural Resources Director of the Gabrielino/Tongva Band of Mission Indians