Aliso Creek Estuary Restoration

Aliso Creek Estuary Restoration Project



The Laguna Ocean Foundation, funded by a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, has prepared a Restoration Plan to return the Aliso Creek Estuary in South Laguna to a healthy ecosystem. The degraded estuary, located at Aliso Beach County Park, is currently the site of invasive plants bordering a stagnant lagoon of unhealthy urban runoff. The plan, prepared by a team of scientists with expertise in estuary habitats, will restore the estuary’s ecosystem to support beach dune, tidal mudflats, salt marsh, tule marsh, cattails and shallow fresh water habitats, which in turn will support a wide diversity of fish and wildlife species. The restored wetland habitats will result in cleaner water entering the ocean.

Here is a picture of the proposed Aliso Creek Estuary Concept:

Click Here to see the Complete Restoration Plan.

A second presentation of the Restoration will plan will be made at the Tuesday, November 14, 2017 regular meeting of the Laguna Beach City Council,

For more information on the Restoration Plan or the plan presentations, write to

Project History

The Laguna Ocean Foundation developed the project over a three-year period of focused interactions with wetland resource specialists, landowners, representatives from State and Federal resource agencies and other stakeholders. The project was recommended by the Wetlands Managers Group of the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project (SCWRP) and was approved by the SCWRP Board of Governors for inclusion in its 2013 Work Program in November 2013.

Project Background

After the Coastal Conservancy Grant was awarded, Laguna Ocean Foundation worked with a team of professional consultants to perform the principal tasks of developing the conceptual restoration plan. The lead consultant, ESA, a multidisciplinary firm with offices in Los Angeles, gathered data from previous studies related to Aliso Creek, its watershed and the lagoon, interacted with landowners and local agencies to learn about existing constraints and opportunities at the site and how those factors might influence the restoration plan. Through these preliminary efforts, supplemented by original data collection and analysis, the team developed an understanding of current physical, hydrological, biological and water quality conditions of the existing lagoon and its upstream influences.

An important step in the design process is defining restoration objectives. This task was undertaken by a panel of experts, drawn from the fields of estuarine ecology, hydrology, coastal geomorphology and water quality, with special expertise in the small, coastal drainage systems of southern California. The scientific panel worked with ESA to develop recommendations and fundamental design parameters to guide development of the conceptual plan. The technical team then performed several forms of analysis, including modeling of potential restoration scenarios, to further define design parameters and desired characteristics of the restoration plan. Design consideration include assumptions on future climate change and sea level rise scenarios, as well as a range of potential changes in the watershed upstream.

Throughout the entire design and planning process, Laguna Ocean Foundation and the California Coastal Conservancy are overseeing and directing the efforts of the technical design team to ensure that the Conceptual Restoration Plan succeeds in meeting the expectations of the Coastal Conservancy grant, Laguna Ocean Foundation’s mission, and other supporters and funders.

After the presentation of the concept plan to the public and after public input is considered, the final step will be to finalize the plan in a formal report to the California Coastal Conservancy to be completed in early 2018.

For questions about the project, please contact Laguna Ocean Foundation’s project manager, Ed Almanza, at

Generous in-kind support has been provided by:

The Aliso Creek Estuary Conceptual Restoration Plan is a fiscally sponsored project of The Ocean Foundation.

PO Box 5247
Laguna Beach, CA 92652-5247

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