Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Lovin’ The Lagoon" by Amber Parker

A few days before heading down to the lagoon, I described to a friend why Long Beach is one of the greatest cities in California.
“There’s just something about the environment and the people,” I told her.
Each part of this city has a history. A place that inspires creative minds and encourages us all to explore our greatest passions and desires. A place that thrives on diversity.
It is the individual communities, when pieced together, which create the image of Long Beach we all know. A binding of unique qualities into one whole. A place we call home.
“This city has character.”
And the Colorado Lagoon is a huge part of that. As I stand inside the Wetlands And Marine Science Education Center (WAMSEC), I find myself saying, “This shack has character.” And not just the shack (which once stood as an abandoned snack hut), but also the entire lagoon seems to possess a personality of its own.
It is a beautiful morning at the lagoon. It’s Valentines Day and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. As if the rain had ceased just long enough to allow the members of Friends of Colorado Lagoon (FOCL), and volunteers like myself, to admire the beauty of this wetland and how much it means to us. Not to sound cheesy, but love is the only word I can describe when standing amongst this group of eager individuals. This is their piece of Long Beach. A place they love. A place they can call home.
We watch the Snowy Egrets feed and I am suddenly pleased with the amount of ecological wisdom I’ve gained since hanging out with FOCL. I’ve learned more in the short time I’ve helped out at the lagoon, pulling ice plants and planting native bluffs, than anything I was taught in my Marine Biology class. Among FOCL’s long list of goals, there is a hope of creating a community appreciation of the historic wetland. To encourage the active involvement of kids, adults and the habitual wetland dwellers.
For example, FOCL introduces its Training and Influencing Docents and Ecologists program (TIDE) for purposes of educating those who are interested in becoming ecological experts.
“[It allows] me to unload that knowledge onto other people,” says Eric.
There’s always something new to learn.
Taylor says the TIDE program is “where we teach ourselves.”
Other programs include those already in action, like Estuary Exploration and Champions Curriculum. Anyone is welcomed to come participate, especially for service learning events like ice plant removal.
Eric explains how it can be a great opportunity to rack up those volunteer hours. And for those who are in it just for fun, he says, “[it gives you that] fuzzy feeling of helping the environment.”
And there’s plenty more to come! You can expect FOCL to be really “creative” in their upcoming events and projects.
I know I’m excited!
The end of our meeting sparks an innovative chapter in the future of Colorado Lagoon. Expect tons of fresh ideas from an inventive staff and die-hard volunteers. It is our ultimate goal to improve the wetland through education, conservation and water quality monitoring. A healthier wetland is in our reach! And the possibilities are truly endless.
Colorado Lagoon has become a place to have fun and interact with the natural environment. A place where diverse interests are welcome and learning something new is never impossible. This wetland is somewhere I can identify myself. It is my own piece of Long Beach too.


  1. Wow, you describe the way I feel about the Lagoon too!

  2. I look forward to watching your relationship with the Lagoon grow!