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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

July, 2004

"No Problem"
New Study Finds Bolinas Lagoon To
Be Healthy and In A "Natural" State
By Josh Churchman

The debate over what to do about the Bolinas Lagoon and its siltation problem has taken on a new angle. Millions of dollars have been spent studying this small but precious estuary and the people who conduct these studies seem to think that there will never be enough studies to answer the questions.

The Bolinas Lagoon is actually an estuary. By definition, a lagoon is an area of shallow salt water separated from the sea by sand dunes. An estuary is an inlet or arm of the sea. If the "do nothing" approach is adopted, the Bolinas estuary will, in fact, become the Bolinas Lagoon.

Gordon Bennet, who represents the Sierra Club and the Environmental Action Committee (EAC) in Point Reyes Station stated publicly that his organizations have "no problem" with periodic closures of the mouth of the lagoon-estuary.

When this closure happens, and there is very little debate over "when" rather than "if," it will not be a pretty picture. Thousands of marine organisms will die. No tide means no food or oxygen and that is certain death. After this initial die off, there will be a new smell that pervades the area, the smell of rotting seafood. The seals will swim away, the birds will fly away, and most people will stay as far away as possible.

No amount of studies will predict the future of the lagoon. Too many variables exist to build an accurate model to guarantee the results of action or no action. So why have any more studies? It is just as unscientific to do nothing as it is to do some dredging to prevent the closure. The outcomes of inaction are just as unpredictable as dredging would be.

If we allow the Sierra Club to steer this new study into a "No Problem" solution, then we must sit and wait for the inevitable closure and the wave of death that will follow.

How can the politics and agency gridlock be set aside and reason and accountability take their place? Will someone say they are sorry when all those creatures die because we could no agree on a strategy?

If it was "natural" for man to cut redwoods around the lagoon and increase the siltation in the 1800's, then it will be equally "natural" for us to dredge those sediments out.

 

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