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Eelgrass: Boon to the Ecology, Bane to Boaters

Posted on 03 December 2011 by admin (0)
(Don Leach, Daily Pilot)

(Don Leach, Daily Pilot)

Los Angeles Times

To some swimmers and boaters it’s a messy, gunk-filled weed, but to the federal government, this ribbon-like plant is crucial to the ecology of coastal bays.

Eelgrass, a protected species of marine life, provides sea creatures with food and protection. Yet many Newport Harbor-area residents and boat owners consider the plant a major headache. They say stringent federal protections instituted 10 years ago make it too expensive to dredge beneath their docks. They say so much silt has accumulated underwater that the keels of sailboats are scraping bottom.

“Boats are hard to use when they’re on the sand,” said home and dock owner Seymour Beek.

The city of Newport Beach is requesting an exemption from federal regulations, saying that an experimental technology used in the Bay Area is one of several new strategies that can help preserve eelgrass at a fraction of the current expense.

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