Friends of Ballona Wetlands was awarded a $40,000 grant from Southern California Edison August 7th that members say will help the organization continue its stewardship and protection of the environmentally sensitive wetlands area.

“Edison’s generous gift will be used to extend our community outreach and education programs,” said Lisa Fimiani, co-executive director of the Friends. “People need to understand how important these remaining wetlands are to the entire region.”

Friends of Ballona Wetlands was formed in 1978 to protect and defend the wetlands, crucial habitat for hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife.

Its mission is to champion the restoration and protection of the wetlands, and to involve and educate the public and stewards. Each year, the organization hosts up to 5,500 visitors for interpretive wetlands tours and hands-on dunes restoration.

“(We) are committed to improving the environment by supporting organizations like Friends of the Ballona Wetlands, which engage the community in preserving a healthy and sustainable environment,” said Mark Olson, region manager for Edison.

“We’re impressed with the depth and breadth of the Friends’ education efforts, which encompass all ages, from kindergarten to senior citizens—a total of 65,000 volunteers since 1994.”

Friends of Ballona Wetlands works in tandem with the California Coastal Conservancy and the California Department of Fish and Game, which have authority over the state-owned Ballona Wetlands ecological reserve.

“Friends is excited to have the support of Edison, a trailblazer among local companies in supporting the communities in which they work,” Fimiani said.