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Ann Gardner | Via Latina


Endangered California Least Terns and threatened Western Snowy Plovers are beginning to look for potential nesting sites, according to Brian Foster, the contract biologist monitoring four mitigation breeding sites managed by the 22nd District Agricultural Association. The sites, visible from I-5 as large white patches on either side of the freeway, have been replenished with new sand and oyster shells and meticulously weeded to produce what is hoped to be the most ideal nesting surface for the birds. Tern decoys are also used to show the Terns the sites are for them and ceramic roof tiles are provided as shelters from sun and predators for the chicks.

Last season visiting Terns roosted regularly with the decoys after departing their breeding sites (elsewhere) and were observed foraging for fish in the lagoon and feeding their fledglings. Hopefully, Foster noted, one or two pairs of these visitors will return to San Dieguito for nesting and start up a new nesting colony. Because of increasing human habitat near the beaches, the Plovers and Terns have been displaced from Southern California and the populations, especially the Least Tern’s, has declined precipitously. “Last year’s meager statewide fledgling productivity was only enough to support a future population of about 2,900 pair of Terns,” Foster said. “It reflects the devastatingly poor reproduction of Terns…back to the year 2000.”

Asked why Plovers are reported as “individuals” and Terns as “pairs,” he explained that Plover females will have three nests in a season with different males (while) Terns are reported as pairs since they usually stay together for several years.”

Scientists hired by the California Coastal Commission to provide independent monitoring of Southern California Edison’s Lagoon Restoration Project will report their findings at a public workshop to be held at the Powerhouse Tuesday, May 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. The Project is one of four required by the Commission before granting SCE development permits for Units 2 and 3 of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS). The requirement, to restore a minimum of 150 acres of wetlands to mitigate for the marine environment negatively impacted by the development, was adopted by the Commission in 1991 and construction of the wetland habitats in the Lagoon was completed in 2011. Post-construction monitoring to evaluate whether the restoration met the SONGS permit criteria began in January 2012.

The May 7 workshop will provide the first opportunity for the public to review the results from the Project’s first year. Representatives from SCE and members of the Commission’s Scientific Advisory Panel will also be on hand to provide their viewpoints. CCC staff will use the information in carrying out its continued evaluation of the project.



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