The Coast News Group
Volunteers strike a pose during the New Year’s Resolution Project at San Dieguito Lagoon last Dec. 31. Photo by Patty McCormac
CommunityDel Mar

Earth Day project seeks volunteers

Looking for a good way to celebrate Earth Day? Pack up the kids, or kids pack up your parents, and head over to the San Dieguito River Park to help in an Earth Day project. Volunteers will gather to plant 800 yards of native plants at the San Dieguito Lagoon.

The event is set for 9 a.m. to noon on April 21. Parking is at the corner Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive.

“Just bring your enthusiasm and sweat equity,” said Trish Boaz, executive director of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. “We supply the rest.”

The lagoon is on both sides of Interstate 5 near Via de la Valle.

The mission of the day is to make the area beautiful and teach others about the wetland and the value of the lagoon.

“We like to have families,” Boaz said. “Bring your kids out to show them the importance of taking care of their environment and community.”

She said the planting project was started by volunteers who removed the 800 yards of ice plant on Dec. 31, 2017, during the New Year’s Resolution event.

“Now, join the conservancy as they continue to restore this beautiful area at the San Dieguito Lagoon with native plants,” she said.

It is hard to imagine now as we drive Interstate 5 and take in the beauty of the San Dieguito Lagoon as it sparkles in the sun, that it was not so long ago that it and other area lagoons were used as waste dumps. Among items found in them were old tires, whole used appliances, abandoned cars and even toxic chemicals.

“People didn’t realize the value of the wetlands,” Boaz said. “Now we have come to understand it is a valuable habitat and makes the ocean healthier. We understand what happens upstream affects what happens downstream. “

It has not always been easy to be an advocate for the lagoon. In 1986, the time of the formation of the San Dieguito Valley Conservancy, it was the middle of ‘80s economy boom and housing boom, Boaz said.

“There were some very vocal people in a group in Del Mar who got together determined to preserve these open spaces,” she said. “It was a grassroots effort. Real grass roots.”

“It was a fight,” she said. “At the time, too, our gnatcatcher was about to be put on the endangered species list.”

At times the tiny bird was the only thing that stood between developers and the open space. It remains “threatened” on the endangered species list and its habitat of coastal scrub remains one of the most endangered habitat types in North America, according to the Audubon Society.

Also, the lagoon is on the Pacific Flyway and is an important stop for birds, Boaz said.

Restoration has continued during the past 32 years.

“It’s taken a constant effort and lots of volunteer hands and hearts and a lot of passion goes into it,” Boaz said.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome to attend the planting party.

“There is something for everyone,” Boaz said.

To learn more about the event, call Boaz at (858) 755-6956.