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Annenberg Foundation Plans $50 Million Nature Center at Ballona Wetlands

Image: Lisa Fimiani via Friends of Ballona Wetlands

The Annenberg Foundation, headquartered in Los Angeles, is planning a massive $50-million, 46,000-square-foot nature center at Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve to encourage people to “learn how nature works and how each of them is part of it,” according to Charlton H., “Chuck” Bonham, Fish and Wildlife director. 

Described as an “interpretive center” by The Los Angeles Times, the proposed project is part of “the state’s efforts to restore one of Southern California’s few remaining wetlands and open it to the public.”

According to reports, the tentative plans for the wetlands include “an auditorium, classrooms, a public lobby, exhibits on wildlife and domestic animals, facilities for an animal adoption and care program, veterinary facilities for animals on site, retail space, parking and office space for staff” and possibility a snack bar. The key elements would be educational programs and exhibits about wetlands, along with human-wildlife interactions and more.

While consensus about the project is quite mixed, Lisa Fimiani, executive director of Friends of Ballona Wetlands, said her “group has embraced Annenberg’s involvement and investment,” adding that “the acre proposed for the building site is in poor condition and that Annenberg plans to improve the adjoining ball fields as part of the project.”

Bonham and Leonard Aube, Annenberg Foundation executive directors, said construction will hopefully begin in 2014, however it depends on “timing and outcome of a required review under the California Environmental Quality Act.”

According to LAist.com, there have been various past proposals on restoring and preserving the wetlands, but this appears to be the first time “one agreement has been reached.”

Talks continue, according to The Los Angeles Times, about how best to restore and perverse the wetlands.

The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation established in 1989, founded by Walter H. Annenberg, publisher and ambassador. According to their website, the Foundation “supports the worldwide community through it’s grant making technical assistant and direct charitable activities.” 

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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014