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Physical Changes at the Lagoon
Malibu Lagoon and the Malibu Creek floodplain have undergone many changes in recent history. The flat land at the exit of Malibu Canyon was the historic flood plain of the creek as it carried flood waters and sediment from the Santa Monica Mountains. During the time of the Rindge Family Rancho Malibu, the flood plain was used for seasonal agriculture with few permanent buildings. The creek was crossed by a ford and early colony "cottages" were subject to flooding in extreme weather. In other words, the flood plain was expected to flood. The Lagoon was much larger than today, extending into land along the Colony boundaries where Jerry Perenchio's golf course is today. Tall grasses and reeds filled wetlands teeming with wildlife that extended across PCH, including the now barren Chile Cook-Off land where the water table was near the surface.
In the 1940s through the 1960s the Lagoon area was used as a dump site for fill material by CalTrans and others as Pacific Coast Highway was improved and rerouted and other development in Malibu changed the community from a rural ranching environment to one of permanent dwellings and businesses. By the late 1970's the flood plain and most of the Lagoon had been filled. Two Little League baseball fields occupied filled land in the Lagoon.
In the early 1980s, environmental concerns began to reverse the trend. Malibu Lagoon was enlarged to serve as a bird sanctuary and an artificial marshland. Channels from the Lagoon to the beach were designated as a part of the new Malibu Lagoon State Park. To control pollution of the Lagoon, the park administrator ordered the Lagoon flushed into the ocean as far from the Surfrider Beach parking lot as possible. Unfortunately for surfers, this meant into First Point.
Malibu Lagoon was last restored in 1983, when the Little League fields were removed and three channels were dug at right angles to the creek. In 2006, there is a plan to further restore the Lagoon although there is controversy about what exactly was the historical condition that restoration should target.
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