March 2011 home page

  Marine Life Lives
Ann Gardner | Via Latina


Sampling with fish enclosure samplers in main channel of
San Dieguito River near railroad bridge documents
abundance of new fish.
Photo courtesy of Mitigation Monitoring Program UCSB


San Dieguito Lagoon lost its designation as a State Marine Park when the California Fish and Game Commission recently removed it as a protected area in new regulations adopted as part of the South Coast Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). Nevertheless, San Dieguito River Park rangers will continue to patrol the area prohibiting the removal of any resources, including fishing, which was the basic protection afforded under the MLPA. “There is no change in our duties,” Leana Bulay, the Lagoon’s full time ranger explained, because the Lagoon is within the boundaries of the River Park, subject to Park policies and regulations.

The Del Mar Lagoon Committee may also adopt MLPA-like wording to provide an additional enforcement tool. “We would really like to see municipal code covering all of the lagoon within the Del Mar city limits,” Bill Michalsky, Committee Chair, said, “and specifically prohibit fishing from the River shore line.”

Del Mar Mayor Don Mosier, although disappointed in the Commission’s decision, said he was “happy that the new regulations had finally passed after years of hard work. (The new MLPA) protects marine life to the largest feasible extent.” Thirty-six new Marine Protection Areas were created, more than doubling protected waters as part of California’s ongoing efforts to increase protection for marine life, habitats and ecosystems.

It appears San Dieguito Lagoon was deleted from the MLPA list at the request of Southern California Edison (SCE). SCE continues to work on wetlands restoration in the area and will soon begin dredging of the River channel to the Ocean. Continued restoration work plus surveying and collection of specimens to measure restoration performance as well as keeping the ocean inlet open might all be hampered by the MPA designation, according to an SCE letter to the Commission.

In fact, the River Park ranger positions assigned to the Lagoon are funded by SCE and are based at the SCE construction headquarters off San Andres Drive in Solana Beach. There is a ranger on duty everyday, including weekends, during daylight hours. In addition to patrol duties that reach west to Jimmy Durante Blvd. and east to El Camino Real, the Rangers build and maintain trails, manage a native plant nursery and assist in planting, lead volunteer and educational groups and help with monthly bird counts. SCE also provides funding for the Marine Science Institute, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), to design and implement the monitoring program that is measuring the success of the project in restoring fish habitats at the lagoon. More information and photos are online at marinemitigation.msi.ucsb.edu.



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