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By Eric Heinz

The California State Lands Commission (CSLC) on Tuesday, Nov. 13, announced that it had completed its draft environmental impact report (DEIR) on the expansion of the Wheeler North Reef and will solicit comments from the public through Dec. 28.

The reef is an artificial environmental mitigation construct that’s meant to offset the impacts from San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). It’s about 174 acres underwater about a half-mile off the shore of San Clemente and San Diego County. But the reef has to meet certain thresholds in order to gain mitigation credits, and one important category, fish stock, has never reached that goal according to measurements from 2008.

A kelp bass swims through the Wheeler North Reef. The amount of fish at the reef has not met its goals since 2009, and a proposal to expand the reef or make improvements to it could be brought to the California Coastal Commission within the next year. Photo: Courtesy of UC Santa Barbara
A kelp bass swims through the Wheeler North Reef. The amount of fish at the reef has not met its goals since 2009, and a proposal to expand the reef or make improvements to it could be brought to the California Coastal Commission within the next year. Photo: Courtesy of UC Santa Barbara

In order to meet those goals, Southern California Edison, the company that runs SONGS, will expand the reef to more than twice its size. The plan is to have more fish living in and around the reef in order to provide adequate habitation.

Most of the reef expansion is planned to the north, almost to Dana Point.

To read the 400-plus-page DEIR, visit www.slc.ca.gov and find the link to the document at the bottom right side of the homepage. Comments on the DEIR can be sent to ceqa.comments@slc.ca.gov or mailed to Sarah Mongano at California State Lands Commission, 100 Howe Avenue, Suite 100-South Sacramento, CA 95825.

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