Controversial plans to build a 46,000-square-foot environmental education center in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve have apparently been shelved, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announcing late Tuesday that the Annenberg Foundation has removed itself from the wetlands restoration process.

The Annenberg Foundation was prepared to spend some $50 million on the state-of-the-art center, which for the past two years was assailed by some local environmental groups opposed to any construction in the wetlands and the center’s inclusion of a domestic animal care component.

“After considerable thought and reflection, the Annenberg Foundation’s leadership has made a decision to suspend its continuing involvement in the restoration planning for the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. The Foundation informed us of this decision after a comprehensive evaluation of all the community-development projects it is involved in that resulted in a reprioritization of resources and focus,” reads the statement by state Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Jordan Traverso.

The Annenberg Foundation, which had proposed building the center east of Lincoln Boulevard near the Culver – Marina Little League baseball fields, did not return calls.

The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and the Coastal Conservancy remain involved in restoration plans.

“The other partners will continue to move the restoration project forward,” Traverso’s statement reads.

–Gary Walker