Previously stalled plans to restore ocean habitat near the Port of Long Beach may be revived as port officials seek ways to offset the impacts of a massive wind turbine fabrication facility they hope to build.

It’s too early to say exactly which projects might be chosen as mitigation for what the port is calling Pier Wind, a 400-acre complex in the outer harbor where 1,100-foot-tall turbines would be assembled before being towed to sea. But officials hope to build on already-studied proposals, which would include the creation of rocky reefs, oysterbeds, planting eelgrass, kelp and more.

The original habitat restoration proposal grew out of Long Beach city leaders’ interest in removing or modifying the breakwater, which was expected to improve water circulation and benefit wildlife and recreational ocean users.

Long Beach city leaders worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for more than a decade on a study of potential restoration projects in the East San Pedro Bay.

The environmental study, published by the Army Corps in 2022, concluded that changes to the 2.2-mile breakwater wouldn’t achieve officials’ environmental goals; it could have negative impacts on U.S. Navy operations as well as the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and other stakeholders; and it would cost too much–from $600 million to remove a portion of the rock wall, up to $1.4 billion to lower it.

This week, Long Beach City Manager Tom Modica and Port of Long Beach CEO Mario Cordero wrote in a memo that the port is working with the Army Corps and may move forward with some of the study’s recommendations for ocean habitat restoration.

Creating the wind turbine facility would entail filling in about 430 acres of the harbor. State and federal rules require the port to offset the loss of habitat that helps support various species of marine plants and animals.

The projects recommended by the Army Corp’s 2022 study were estimated to cost about $141 million, but neither the city or the federal government had earmarked funding for it.

Whatever kinds of restoration officials decide to pursue will be vetted by the public. According to the city memo, the port is working with the Army Corps of Engineers on “a very aggressive schedule” to draft a plan, which could be ready for review by early next year. Port officials hope to start construction of the wind turbine facility in 2027.

The revival of East San Pedro Bay restoration proposals may also stir up concerns and objections that were raised with the original report, including the suggestion that wetland habitat should be part of any project, that creation of reefs and kelp beds could interfere with recreational boating, and that possible modifications to the breakwater weren’t given full and fair consideration.

Details on the city’s involvement in the restoration are still being worked out, but it would remain a partner on the project, Acting Deputy City Manager Tyler Bonanno-Curley said in an email, adding that such work “can help to improve the aquatic ecosystem structure and increase habitat biodiversity within the East San Pedro Bay.”