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Ballona Wetlands, Los Angeles

#5 of 6 in Wildlife in Los Angeles
Nature / Park · Hidden Gem · Wildlife Area
The Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve are located in Los Angeles County, California, just south of Marina del Rey and east of Playa del Rey. The natural wetlands once included the areas now taken up by Marina del Rey, New Amsterdam Canals of Venice, Playa Vista, northern Playa del Rey, and formerly extended northerly beyond Venice Boulevard to the historical Venice Canals that are now covered in asphalt with 6 streets.
The Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve is one of the last significant estuarine and freshwater wetland landscapes in coastal Los Angeles County and is named after the Mexican Rancho La Ballona, for which later Port Ballona and Ballona Creek derive their names. Lower Ballona Creek flows through the estuarine wetland between two earthen levees that flank the soft-bottom soil with a unique marine infauna, found only in this tidal river, and which is nearly fully covered with ocean water only at high tide, twice each day. Intermingled with the estuary and at the peripheral boundaries of the wetland landscape are habitats including coastal sand dunes with unique sand dune ecology, meadow grassland, coastal prairie, coastal willow woodland, coastal shrubland, salt pannes and pools, and coastal urban forests.

In the 1930s, upper Ballona Creek was completely channelized, from the bottom to top, in concrete, thus greatly increasing the inflow of ocean water further inland up the river, but simultaneously reducing ocean water to the marsh beyond the levee walls, as well as eliminating wet season rainwater runoff, which brought freshwater to the marsh plain.

Among the many groups dedicated to protecting the wetlands are the Ballona Institute, Friends of Ballona Wetlands, Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, Grassroots Coalition, Ballona Ecosystem Education Project, Los Angeles Audubon Society, and Sierra Club.

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Ballona Wetlands reviews

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11 reviews
  • What a great little spot this is for a nice walk. Close to LAX, the Ballona Wetlands have been set aside as an important flyover site for birds. You'll see plenty here, and the flat, easy walk is...  more »
  • Ballona Wetlands has three different parts.. freshwater marsh, saltwater marsh and a dune area. FreshWater marsh is next to PCH and has a nice place to walk around and photography for birds are very.....  more »
  • Part of the trail that looks like a loop on the map is closed off, and the open part I walked was right next to the road, so don't expect to get away from it all, but it's a sweet little marsh with lovely waterfowl (not just mallards)! I didn't have binoculars, but I think maybe shovelheads and coots.
  • Beautiful protected land, we need more of this...

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