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Ann Gardner | Via Latina


Petition by San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.
The San Dieguito Boardwalk Trail was built by volunteers to protect wetlands while providing people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to enjoy and study nature. The San Dieguito Boardwalk Trail is a valuable community asset that promotes environmental education and appreciation of our unique lagoon wetland environment.

Readers can sign the online petition here
Click on image to enlarge.

Supporters of keeping the Boardwalk in the Fairground’s restored wetlands South Overflow Lot are growing in number, asking the California Coastal Commission to let the weathered, pedestrian only planks stay. In a surprise move, Coastal Commission staff has asked the Fairgrounds to remove the Boardwalk from its approved restoration plan, closing the boardwalk entrance across from the Del Mar Fire Station and rerouting walkers to Jimmy Durante Blvd. “I appreciate that people in the community love walking on the boardwalk portion of the trail and would prefer to be surrounded by wetland rather than to view it from the periphery. But a rerouted trail will still be a wonderful education and recreational asset, will increase the size of the restored habitat and will minimize human disturbance …that we all care so much about,” staff said.

The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy whose priority is the protection of the River corridor disagrees and has initiated an online “Do Not Remove the Boardwalk.” The San Dieguito River Park’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), representing twenty five community groups including the Audubon and Native Plant societies, recently voted in favor of keeping the boardwalk intact. The representative from Audubon, whose mission is to conserve natural ecosystems focusing on birds, argued that birds love boardwalks as a place of protection from birds of prey and to mate. He said the boardwalk encourages the return of endangered species such as the Clapper Rails and cited the presence of boardwalks at successful bird reserves such as Bolsa Chico Preserve near Huntington Beach.

CAC members voiced their dismay at naturalists and children having to join cars and buses along Jimmy Durante Blvd. rather than experiencing nature up close. River Park staff noted that the “boardwalk was designed to minimize habitat impact – it is off the ground but has a very low profile …so as not to disturb birds by being above them.” Boardwalk supporters emphasize that bicyclists, equestrians and leashed dogs would be required to take the new Jimmy Durante route, limiting the boardwalk to quiet nature study, one of the eight encouraged uses in Coastal wetlands.

Solana Beach and Del Mar have also sent letters to the Commission objecting to the boardwalk’s removal, and the River Park Joint Powers Agency is expected to follow their advisory Board’s recommendation and support its retention. Del Mar-based Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley has put the issue on their agenda and may initiate a paper petition drive to seek additional support from residents and visitors if the Commission chooses to follow up on staff’s recommendation to remove the boardwalk.

Readers can sign the online petition here

Walkway at San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Encinitas.
Photo Amber Lamotte Photography.

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Walkway at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach. Photo by Natures Pics Online

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