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Press Release Details

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Highlights Completion of Upper Newport Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project

For Immediate Release
Date: October 22, 2010

Media contacts:
Debbie Kroner, OC Public Works

NEWPORT BEACH, California— Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Congressman Ed Royce (R-California) will join Orange County Supervisor John M.W. Moorlach and other officials Saturday, November 6, to celebrate the long-anticipated completion of the Upper Newport Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center in Newport Beach, 2301 University Drive.

"Upper Newport Bay is one of the few remaining estuaries in Southern California, a peaceful refuge for the people in the region and a vital habitat for endangered bird and plant species. That's why I was pleased to work with other members of Congress to find federal funds to help complete this restoration project. I am looking forward to enjoying the beauty of a restored Upper Newport Bay," stated Senator Feinstein.

Congressman Ed Royce added, "I was pleased to play a role in ensuring that the Federal Government made good on its commitment to restore Upper Newport Bay. This critical project provides extensive benefits to Orange County as well as the entire Region."

"We are extremely happy to be part of the vision, planning, design and construction of this important environmental restoration project. Together, our project balances the ecological diversity needs in the upper bay with the needs of the lower bay. I'm pleased that our work here will continue to provide benefits to future generations," said Col. R. Mark Toy, Commander and District Engineer, Los Angeles District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The restoration project addressed a situation that resulted after decades of rapid urbanization significantly increased the flow of sedimentation into the bay. Open water areas began to disappear, shoaling occurred in navigation channels and boat slips, and tidal circulation was diminishing.

The estimated project cost was $47.4 million, including a Federal share of $30.8 million (65%) and a Local share of $ 16.6 million (35%). The Federal share included $17.4 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"Today's event celebrates the conclusion of a long-term commitment to participate in the vigorous restoration and maintenance of the Upper Newport Bay," said Dan Miller, senior vice president for the Irvine Company. "The Irvine Company has long recognized that this is a tremendous ecological, educational and recreational resource, and we were proud to participate in this important project – a project critical to preserving and restoring the native habitat in the bay," said Dan Miller, Senior Vice President of The Irvine Company.

"Upper Newport Bay is a jewel of California's coast and a much loved resource for Orange County. The State Coastal Conservancy is delighted to have been a partner in its restoration. By providing up front funding of $13 million, the Conservancy was able to help initiate restoration of the largest open-water estuary in Southern California and one of the last remaining coastal wetlands in Southern California. This decade long project represents the best of local, state and federal efforts coming together to restore and preserve our precious coastal resources," said Sam Schuchat, Executive Director of the California Coastal Conservancy.

"The Upper Newport Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project would not have been possible without the County's partnership with several cities, especially the city of Newport Beach, the Army Corps of Engineers, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the Coastal Conservancy. Together, we helped save a national resource, one of the last remaining wetlands in Southern California and made this a better place for endangered species and their natural habitat," commented John M.W. Moorlach, Orange County Supervisor, Second District.

Keith Curry, Mayor of Newport Beach added, "the City of Newport Beach is proud to be a partner with the watershed stakeholders in assisting with this important project which has the double benefit of restoring the ecosystem in the Upper Bay while managing the sediment loading in the Lower Bay."

Dredging work completed in the Bay helped to isolate predators such as raccoons, possums and feral cats from entering the island areas where birds were nesting in order to restore the estuarine habitat. Part of the work also involved created a New Least Tern Island. A total of 2.3 cubic yards was dredged as part of this project and the completion of the restoration work reduced the requirement for maintenance dredging to once every 21 years. The final work was completed on September 4, 2010.

For further information, please contact Debbie Kroner, OC Public Works Public Information Officer at 714-834-5373