Caltrans and SANDAG, with their neighborhood associate The Nature Collective, hosted a ribbon-cutting and neighborhood exploration day on June 4 celebrating the San Elijo Lagoon’s accomplished restoration and new path connections.
Path connections embody the brand new pedestrian suspension bridge beneath the freeway at Manchester Avenue, over the improved lagoon. The bridge is a part of the seven-mile North Coast Bike Path from Solana Hills in Solana Seashore, which continues onto new paths alongside Manchester and Birmingham Drives in Encinitas.
With the suspension bridge now open, guests can now tackle a three-mile loop from the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Middle on Manchester, a path that connects Cardiff to Solana Seashore with prospects to get to the seashore, wander the Harbaugh Seaside Trails, journey into Annie’s Canyon Path and expertise flourishing lagoon life up shut.
The San Elijo Lagoon Restoration is without doubt one of the largest wetland restorations in California, revitalizing the wetland to extra optimum well being with its tidal channels now wider, deeper and lengthening farther inland. The lagoon’s environmental enhancements and new path connections had been made doable by the Construct North Coast Hall freeway and railroad enhancements that started in fall 2017. The half-cent Transnet tax funded the $120 million enterprise.
“Thirty-five years in the past, we had this imaginative and prescient that San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve may very well be restored,” mentioned Doug Gibson, Nature Collective govt director and principal scientist. “This space is a jewel within the crown of the San Diego area, and it’s our obligation to guard it as finest as we’re in a position. Nature Collective and the TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program funding will help stepping stones for all to get pleasure from for a lot of generations.”
New bridges close to the Nature Middle enable guests a novel perspective, an opportunity to look down into the lagoon—when you’re fortunate you would possibly catch a stingray or sea lion. With the restoration, water high quality and oxygen ranges have significantly improved with the elevated tidal flows and the widened channels have introduced in an abundance of plant and animal variety.
“Consider the principle tidal channels because the lungs of the lagoon,” Gibson mentioned. “With each incoming tide, it’s just like the lagoon takes a deep breath and as we speak, 3 times as a lot water is coming in than earlier than restoration.”
Nature Collective scientists noticed the primary octopus within the lagoon channels since work started greater than three a long time in the past and found 5 new fish species by no means earlier than seen. Endangered species such because the Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, Ridgway’s Rail and California Least Tern have additionally been noticed.
Eelgrass can also be now thriving within the lagoon, seen in bunches from the bridges. “Eelgrass is a fish nursery heaven,” mentioned Gibson of the underwater plant that serves as a sheltered habitat for fish like halibut to develop up.
Previous to the restoration, they’d noticed only one patch of eelgrass and now there are 150 patches as the improved tidal circulate is making it doable to naturally propagate.
“It’s an indicator that what we did is working,” mentioned Jennifer Vibrant, affiliate director of Nature Collective.
The Nature Collective is now centered on monitoring many indicators of the restoration’s success, learning numerous elements and knowledge units of the lagoon.
The monitoring is in depth—with post-construction funding from SANDAG, they may proceed to watch the elevations of refuges, species, and tides of the lagoon as a wetland ready for a way forward for sea-level rise and local weather change via 2031.
Nature Collective can also be monitoring the seashore replenishment initiatives on Cardiff State Seashore and Solana Seashore for a report back to California Coastal Fee.
They carried out probably the most complete surf monitoring research that’s ever been finished in California, to indicate that there have been no impacts to the breaking reefs, understanding that wave high quality sustains browsing communities and economies. A Nature Collective scientist surfer surfed 2,800 waves in two years utilizing GPS-attached boards (quick, lengthy and paddle) to gather knowledge. The Nature Collective monitored zones, wave heights and rides and the research confirmed no change between pre-and post-sand replenishment situations.
The scientist surfer tasked with the job was Cardiff native Tim Stillinger—Gibson remembers instructing him when he was a younger scholar in Cardiff College; now he serves as Nature Collective’s science director.
Nature Collective’s subsequent large venture is Fields of the Future, 95 acres of open area overlooking the restored lagoon, close to the Caltrans park and journey on Manchester, a few of which was used as a staging space in the course of the freeway venture.
Plans for the property, often known as “the strawberry fields” embody new trails, neighborhood gathering areas, an outside classroom, natural-inspired sculptures and an expanded native plant nursery to boost extra habitats whereas additionally offering an accessible place for folks of all ages and skills.
Nature Collective’s aim is at all times to get folks out into nature, to have interaction and join with it, to expertise and to be taught. Because the new bridges opened in fall 2020, they’ve seen the lagoon space grow to be much more activated with the Cardiff and Solana Seashore communities lastly related.
Final Friday, June 10, the lagoon loop path was alive with teams of individuals, youngsters and canines, birdwatchers and runners, all exploring and having fun with.
“It’s been unimaginable,” Gibson mentioned of the elevated exercise. “It’s vital to supply entry for all, to provide folks an opportunity to expertise it and to provide an opportunity to fall in love. As a result of when you fall in love, you’re going to need to shield it.”
For extra data on trails and the lagoon, go to thenaturecollective.org