April 2012 home page

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Happy Trails
Ann Gardner | Via Latina


Boardwalk and Lagoon Trails. Courtesy San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy


A kind of spring cleaning at the San Dieguito River Park has been in full swing. Bulldozers grading a site for the new outdoor classroom have left; their deadline was the beginning of the bird nesting season on March 15. The Dust Devils, a dedicated group of weekly volunteers, have spread seeds, put in baby native plants and pulled weeds around the one and two years olds, and the Rangers and volunteers are busting with pride over the newly completed trails. A contract biologist with the Fairgrounds checks daily for signs of least tern mating, and Coastal Commission monitors roam the restored wetlands making sure the California gnatcatcher and Light Footed Clapper Rail are comfortable checking out the area for nesting. It’s Spring in the Park.


from left:  Ginni Kitchen, Solana Beach; Brenda Noonan, Imperial Beach;
David Jones, Carmel Valley, and Jeff Barnouw, Del Mar.  Photos Ann Gardner


It is the perfect time to take a walk in our western end of the Park. You might start at the Coast to Crest Trail monument on Jimmy Durante Blvd. just across from the Del Mar Fire Station and head out on the Boardwalk. It takes you along the River to see ducks, shore birds, maybe a green egret and interpretive signs for one-quarter of a mile to a viewing platform. From there you can go a mile further under the freeway and past the water treatment ponds, to the popular San Andres Trailhead. Up close the restored lagoon habitat shimmers in the early morning light and what looks like a dull canvas from your car on the freeway, comes to life.

Or you could start at the Trailhead, off Via de la Valle at San Andres Drive. Spend time getting acquainted with the area, learning about the water treatment ponds on your right, then head east along the restored lagoon toward the just graded site for a hill-hugging semi-circular classroom with no walls, at-grade seating for eighty and an overhead structure that will protect visitors from the summer sun and fall rains. Made possible with County funds earmarked by former Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, actual construction will start only after the nesting season is over, in mid-September.

But the delightful, recently completed Horse Park Trail is just around the corner. Here you will trade the Lagoon environment for an up close River environment full of water fowl and with abundant flowering plants including bush sunflower and poppies. Horse Park will be on your left as you head toward El Camino Real where the trail ends… until the future next leg of the Coast to Crest Trail south of the current Polo fields, begins.

Or join small groups led monthly by a Park Ranger to learn more about the lagoon habitat, or by an experienced and knowledgeable birder (with scope) to see the amazing details of birds (at last count 214 species) drawn to the restored wetlands. Information about groups, dates, times and locations are found at www.sdrp.org.

Next month: On the Other Side of the Lagoon and To the Source, Almost


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