In 1991, the California Coastal Commission required that a kelp forest community be created on an artificial reef as mitigation for the impacts of a coastal power plant on the kelp community in the San Onofre Kelp Bed, off the coast of Southern California. The Commission's decision
was made after extensive review of alternative techniques for mitigating the impacts of the power plant, and recognizing that there is some uncertainty about the successful implementation of this requirement. Although techniques for preventing resource losses are generally preferred over techniques
that provide replacement resources, such as the artificial reef, in this case the prevention techniques were ineffective, logistically infeasible, technically difficult, and/or very expensive; one technique, constructing cooling towers, would also have created other environmental and visual
impacts. Of the various potential replacement techniques, only an artificial reef could replace the lost resources with the same type of resources. Data from artificial and natural reefs in Southern California indicate that the algal, invertebrate and fish communities are generally similar
on artificial and natural reefs, so that a properly designed reef should be able to provide the types of resources impacted by the power plant. To insure that the mitigation reef successfully replaces the lost resources, the Coastal Commission established specific conditions that the reef
must meet, required independent long-term monitoring to determine whether these standards are met, and required the power company undertake necessary remediation if the standards are not met.
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