Caltrans and SANDAG, with their group companion The Nature Collective, hosted a ribbon-cutting and group exploration day on June 4 celebrating the San Elijo Lagoon’s accomplished restoration and new path connections.
Path connections embrace the brand new pedestrian suspension bridge below 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 Seaside, 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 Seaside with prospects to get to the seaside, 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 attainable by the Construct North Coast Hall freeway and railroad enhancements that started in fall 2017. The half-cent Transnet tax funded the $120 million endeavor.
“Thirty-five years in the past, we had this imaginative and prescient that San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve might be restored,” mentioned Doug Gibson, Nature Collective government 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 ready. Nature Collective and the TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program funding will assist stepping stones for all to get pleasure from for a lot of generations.”
New bridges close to the Nature Middle permit guests a singular perspective, an opportunity to look down into the lagoon—for those who’re fortunate you may 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 right this moment, thrice 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 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 move is making it attainable to naturally propagate.
“It’s an indicator that what we did is working,” mentioned Jennifer Vivid, affiliate director of Nature Collective.
The Nature Collective is now targeted on monitoring many indicators of the restoration’s success, finding out numerous points and information units of the lagoon.
The monitoring is in depth—with post-construction funding from SANDAG, they’ll 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 be monitoring the seaside replenishment tasks on Cardiff State Seaside and Solana Seaside for a report back to California Coastal Fee.
They performed essentially the most complete surf monitoring research that’s ever been executed 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 information. The Nature Collective monitored zones, wave heights and rides and the research confirmed no change between pre-and post-sand replenishment circumstances.
The scientist surfer tasked with the job was Cardiff native Tim Stillinger—Gibson remembers educating him when he was a younger pupil in Cardiff College; now he serves as Nature Collective’s science director.
Nature Collective’s subsequent huge mission is Fields of the Future, 95 acres of open area overlooking the restored lagoon, close to the Caltrans park and experience on Manchester, a few of which was used as a staging space in the course of the freeway mission.
Plans for the property, also called “the strawberry fields” embrace new trails, group gathering areas, an outside classroom, natural-inspired sculptures and an expanded native plant nursery to reinforce extra habitats whereas additionally offering an accessible place for individuals of all ages and skills.
Nature Collective’s aim is at all times to get individuals out into nature, to have interaction and join with it, to expertise and to study. Because the new bridges opened in fall 2020, they’ve seen the lagoon space change into much more activated with the Cardiff and Solana Seaside communities lastly related.
Final Friday, June 10, the lagoon loop path was alive with teams of individuals, kids and canine, birdwatchers and runners, all exploring and having fun with.
“It’s been unimaginable,” Gibson mentioned of the elevated exercise. “It’s necessary to supply entry for all, to offer individuals an opportunity to expertise it and to offer an opportunity to fall in love. As a result of when you fall in love, you’re going to wish to shield it.”
For extra data on trails and the lagoon, go to thenaturecollective.org