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As I’ve written about on many occasions, the Bolsa Chica Wetlands is one of my favorite places in Huntington Beach. I start most mornings with a couple of laps around the loop trail there, and not a visit goes by without some sort of spectacular wildlife encounter, whether it’s coming face to face with a snowy egret or watching a ray move slowly and smoothly through the water across the muddy ocean floor.

That’s why I could not wait to get my hands on David Carlberg’s wonderful new book, “Bolsa Chica — Its History from Prehistoric Times to the Present.” Carlberg’s book is just what the title implies: a comprehensive, layered history of this cherished spot, featuring many interesting photos, illustrations, maps and charts. (A description for the Amigos de Bolsa Chica, of which Carlberg is president, reads: “[The book] covers a millennia of natural and human forces that eventually shaped Bolsa Chica into the landscape we know today, from the indigenous people who inhabited it for over 6,000 years to the Europeans and Americans who owned it for another 200 years. It objectively details the citizen activism and events, big and small, which led to the preservation and restoration of the Bolsa Chica wetland.

“This book is a must-read for everyone looking for an authoritative source on the history of this fascinating part of coastal California.”

But in addition to detailing the wetlands, Carlberg, a retired microbiologist, includes information about a Huntington Beach landmark intrinsically connected to Bolsa Chica.


It’s at 5811 McFadden Ave. in Huntington Beach, and it’s a mural depicting — what else? — the wetlands.

As Carlberg detailed recently at a presentation he made at Central Library for his book, what makes the mural significant (aside from its sweeping beauty) is that, were it not for the efforts of so many who worked to help preserve the wetlands, this image may have wound up being the only full-scale view of what the place looked like.

It was created in honor of the Amigos de Bolsa Chica’s 16th anniversary (they are the group dedicated to preserving and protecting the wetlands). Local artist Neill Ketchum designed the 35-foot-wide spectacle (which was dedicated in 1992) and a crew of 15 people (including Carlberg) worked on the piece for several months.

Called the “Railing Wall” mural, it is just behind the building.


It is a vivid reminder of just how precious the wetlands are; and an artful celebration of one of Huntington Beach’s most valuable resources.

And I greatly encourage you to check out Carlberg’s new book at

Also, I received a note recently: “Dear Mr. Epting, My name is Colin McCallister and I am a student at Harbour View Elementary School. I would like to talk to you about a program Ms. LeMense’s fifth-grade class started called Pelicans Pledge. We asked every student at Harbour View to do community service and to log how many hours they did on a pledge card. We are currently tallying hours, and I think we have over 1,000 hours. We are presenting the results at the Patriotic Assembly at Harbour View this Friday and would be delighted if you could join us.”

Well, I did join them and the delight was mine. I’ve seen Patriotic Assemblies at Harbour View before, and they are lump-in-the-throat- proud-to-be-an-American- why-can’t-all-schools- celebrate-their-country- like-this tear jerkers that feature red, white and blue music, spirit and soul.

Many times, veterans are on hand, but on this day it was all about the kids and what they did as parts of the Pelican’s Pledge.

Colin McCallister, who was in charge of generating local coverage for the event, walked me through the program, and I had a chance to interview many of the kids about what they did, from clean-up programs to helping those in need.

To Ms. LeMense and her fifth-graders, you have every reason to be proud. You made the city better by donating more than 1,000 hours to help those who need it and to make this place look better.

In fact, the total number of class hours amounted to a whopping 2,353.


You selflessly pitched in for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do, so thank you very much — we’re all proud of you.

CHRIS EPTING is the author of 14 books, including the new “Huntington Beach Then & Now.” You can write him at