Ann Cantrell, Anna Christensen Fought Lonely Battle For Wildlife As State And Local Agencies Enabled Boathouse on the Bay's Popular "Big Bang on the Bay" Fireworks
|(July 5, 2021) -- While paying patrons and others lined Alamitos Bay to view the July 3 "Big Bang on the Bay" fireworks presented by Boathouse on the Bay operator John Morris, Ann Cantrell, an octagenarian who's spent decades advocating environmental causes and safeguarding wildlife, was walking among the area's trees with Ann Cristensen and a small group of others to see what the bombs bursting in air would do to nesting birds and area wildlife and to safeguard any baby birds that might fall from nests.
What did they see? In an email to a supporter, Ms. Cantrell wrote:
"It was horrendous...At the first earthshaking boom, four Snowy Egrets and a Black-crown Night Heron flew out of the tree we were guarding. We don't know how many flightless babies were left in the tree. Puvunga Warriors stood under the tree holding a blanket in case any baby fell out during the 30 minutes of constant light and deafening noise. We can only hope the parents will return so the babies don't starve, but tonight [July 4] there will no doubt be more fireworks from "illegal" sources to scare them again today [July 4].
Ms. Cantrell said she didn't imagine "the public would not be allowed on Marina Dr. after 6 p.m. unless one had a 'pass'--in other words were attending the [Boathouse on the Bay] event or were a boat owner or guest. The Coastal [Commission] waiver said the event was 'free' and there would be public access at all times."
Ms. Cantrell said "There were cops at every entrance to Marina Dr. telling people the parking lots were full. The public was only allowed to walk or bike in, some from Seal Beach." She said Ms. Christensen "had gone down at 11:30 a.m. and talked with the police so Ms. Cantrell was able to arrive at 6:15 [p.m.] "There was party at the Navy Yacht Club, the Lifeguard Office and on almost every boat, so there was no parking for the public." she said,
The Audubon society didn't back up her call to halt the fireworks. Ms. Cantrell and Ms. Christensen found themselves in a lonely fight for wildlife against a highly popular event enabled by state and city agencies.
[Scroll down for further.]
|An LBREPORT.com column by Doug Krikorian quoted Boathouse on the Bay/event organizer John Morris as saying: "First off, we have all the proper and legal permits from the Coastal Commission,'' he says. ``Secondly, we have put cones around the nearby trees that most affect the birds. And lastly---and this is the most cogent fact---the birds have returned every year we have done the event. They're not exactly an endangered species.''
When the Sierra Club's Los Cerritos Wetlands Task Force accurately cited part of a Coastal Commission permit that organizers had shrugged, Coastal Commission staff used a Chicago-level maneuever, rewriting the permit to fit organizers' actions.
The Sierra Club Task Force said Coastal Commission staff indicated the event would be free to the public but organizers sold tickets to the Boathouse's "block party which included food and the fireworks show. (The event organizers website indicated that proceeds would go charity and "Block party ticket proceeds benefit Children Today and other local charities." The fireworks were freely visible to crowds lining the Alamitos Bay shoreline.
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