Conservancy group may acquire last piece of wetlands

The Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, a nonprofit that has spent a quarter-century acquiring and preserving the city's coastal area, may soon obtain the last stretch of wetlands not yet marked for restoration.

The California Department of Transportation, better known as Caltrans, announced Thursday that the 44-acre property at Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway had been declared surplus land. With that designation, Caltrans can sell the property to the California State Coastal Conservancy, which has expressed hopes of buying the marsh and donating it to the nonprofit.

Caltrans spokeswoman Gloria Roberts said the parties do not have a timeline yet for the sale and are in talks to determine the marsh's market value. A spokesman for the coastal conservancy did not return a call seeking comment.

Gordon Smith, chairman of the nonprofit's board of directors, said he was hopeful that his group could acquire the property soon.

"It's encouraging," he said. "We'll just keep forging ahead. I would imagine within the next several months, this whole process would be transacted."

The nonprofit, which started in 1985, has already acquired and done restoration work on three coastal wetlands areas known as the Talbert, Brookhurst and Magnolia marshes.

—Michael Miller

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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