NEWPORT BEACH — Some call it a weed. A scourge on the bay. Others, mainly fish, can't live without it.
Eelgrass, a type of seagrass found throughout Southern California bays, lines the shore in many parts of Newport Harbor and provides refuge and food for marine life. Because of strict environmental regulations, homeowners avoid disturbing the plant. Many haven't dredged their shorelines for years, and their boats and floating docks have begun to run aground.
Trying to strike a delicate balance between the recreational and environmental value of the bay, the city is proposing a novel plan to manage eelgrass. City officials are negotiating with federal and state regulators to allow homeowners to dredge under their docks without costly mitigation. But part of the plan relies on growing the unpredictable grass in other parts of Newport Harbor using methods never tested in Southern California.
"We are trying to make things work for our residents, yet recognize the importance of eelgrass," said Chris Miller, the city's harbor resources manager.