Our History

The Bolsa Chica Wetlands are remnants of a once extensive wetland system that was home toNative Americans as far back as 9,000 years ago. The land was subsequently owned forhundredsof years by Manual Perez Nieto and his heirs, purchased by Los Angeles businessmenfor the Bolsa Chica Gun Club, leased to Standard Oil for drilling beginning in the 1920s, andoccupied by the US Army’s artillery battery during World War II. The post-war1950s saw thebeach below Bolsa Chica filled with piles of trash (300 tons by one estimate)—earning it thename Tin Can Beach. With the 1972 passage of the California Coastal Act, it was determinedthat a viable wetland existed and originally 310 acres were established as the Bolsa ChicaEcological Reserve. In 1997, under a state and federal interagency agreement, 880 acres of theremaining lowland portions of Bolsa Chica were purchased by the State of California.Today, the Conservancy serves as an important ecological reserve and outreach center in thehighly urbanized Southern California region. We operate from a temporary modular facility onthe 1,445-acre Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, offering science-based and standards-alignedclasses and guided tours, educational exhibits and displays, research, restoration of degradedwetland and upland habitats, and propagation of native plants for use in restoration projects

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