It started with a man, a boat, his loyal dog and 46 acres of salt marsh. In 1994 Lenny Arkinstall, Founder and Executive Director of LCWS, made it his personal goal to completely clean Long Beach's Los Cerritos Wetlands, his efforts continue today.
A feat previously attempted, but never achieved. While accomplishing this goal he began inundating himself in our local coastal salt marsh habitats by networking with local experts and by taking courses at local universities. Soon, Lenny himself became recognized as one of those experts. Since then, the Los Cerritos Wetlands Stewards have grown into a student oriented, non-profit organization that specializes in restoring, maintaining, enhancing, managing and researching an assortment of urban wetland, marine, and upland habitats.
By implementing an adaptable management approach, the Stewards engage each project with an open-mindedness that allows for everyone to better experience and appreciate the diverse natural habitats Southern California has to offer.
March 21, 2015, 0:47 AM|A recent study in "Science" estimates that as much as 14 million tons of plastic trash wound up in the world's oceans in 2010 and that amount could double in a decade. But, one California man is on a mission to clean up wetlands that are filled with plastic waste before the debris floats into the Pacific Ocean.
Originally, the Stewards' main focus was natural habitat maintenance for the City of Long Beach, which included eradication of non-native invasive weeds, mulching, planting native plants, and the removal of debris and other trash at several sites. As time passed, our knowledge of these urban habitats grew, and as we worked, more people began to ask us questions about what we do. More importantly, they asked us why we do what we do. Eventually, public education became one of our most significant missions.
Over the past five years we have worked with students of all ages, from 6 to 60 years of age. Our educational programs attempt to highlight the significance of native habitats in urban areas and we truly enjoy being able to involve the community in the work that we do.
The Stewards hope that through holistic education and community involvement, we can build an awareness that will propagate a growing consciousness for southern California's wildlife. We look forward to cultivating a new generation of naturalists that will continue to restore and protect the native flora and fauna that define the beauty of coastal California.
Bill Macdonald video about Lenny:
What is a Wetland?
There are as many different definitions for wetlands as there are wetlands enthusiasts. These different definitions are used by wetlands scientists, managers, regulatory agencies, landowners, and of course by students. Wetlands definitions generally contain some aspect of the following three components: 1) hydric (wet) soils, 2) hydrophytes (water plants), & 3) soil compositions that are different from upland areas. Simply put, wetlands are a place where water meets land and special plants grow in unique soil conditions.
Wetlands are found worldwide and are not limited by geographic or political boundaries. There are numerous types of wetlands, however, the most complicated variety are tidal salt marshes.
Southern California tidal salt marshes are unique wetland habitats because they are hydrologically influenced twice daily by mixed semi-diurnal oceanic tides, as well as by freshwater inflows from rivers and urban run-off. This mixing of fresh and salt water creates what is called an estuary. Furthermore, tidal salt marshes are influenced by several upland habitats and are composed of various sub-habitats including salt pannes, tidal creeks, and mud flats. Diverse assemblages of animal communities (insects, mollusks, cnidarians, annelids, crustaceans, arachnids, birds, reptiles, fishes, and mammals) are supported by the coastal salt marsh plant community, which provides food, shelter, and breeding grounds for many organisms that could not exist without these wetlands. Therefore, the Los Cerritos Wetlands is one of the most biologically productive places in the world and acts as a sanctuary that possesses an incredible amount of ecological value.
The Los Cerritos Wetlands are one of only about 30 southern California coastal salt marshes. This fragmented system of wetlands dots the coast between San Quitin, Baja California and Santa Barbara, California. The Mediterranean climate, characterized by long dry summers and short intermittently wet winters, along with a topography characterized by a steep continental shelf and short watersheds, makes our salt marshes different from those found on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In addition, the viability of our salt marshes have been jeopardized by a continuing bombardment of urban development.
Only about 7% of the original salt marsh habitat that once existed in southern California has not been developed, and much of the remaining habitat is measurably degraded. Unfortunately, little is known of the ecology of these marshes before development began making true restoration of these wetlands a tall order. Yet, the Los Cerritos Wetlands Stewards remain inspired to work towards achieving this goal. Our inspiration is garnered from the teachings of wetlands scientists like Dr. Joy Zedler and Dr. John Callaway.by the optimism of 'Friends Of' groups from Famosa Slough, Newport Back Bay, Bolsa Chica, and the Ballona Wetlands.and by the faithfulness of naturalists such as John Muir and Aldo Leopold.
Above all, we give the utmost respect to Lilian Robles, the Tongva elder whose spirit brings us all together to achieve her visions of a sustainable Earth. Though she is no longer with us in body, her presence is still strong. Every time the wind blows she whispers in our ears "You're not getting out of this."