We walked through the San Elijo lagoon in Encinitas, CA, yesterday. A sunny winter day is a good time to visit, though it’s open year round and a lot of joggers and dog walkers from the neighborhood go there regularly. The
San Elijo Conservancy gives guided walks every other weekend, and the volunteers really add to the experience. Now I can say I know what a real pack rat’s nest looks like, and it’s not exactly like my office. We saw ducks, teal, coots, cranes, sandpipers, and a California gnat catcher – and walked through a cloud of California gnats. On the way out we passed a group of true bird watchers, each one armed with binoculars, telescopes, and notebooks.
It seems like all the lagoons, though protected from development, are suffering from water flow changes that block the periodic floods that used to flush sediment out to sea and rebuild the beaches. Now the water drops sediment in the lagoon. Finally the outlet to the sea is blocked, marine animals can’t go back and forth, and finally becoming stagnant. The conservancy raised money to endow lagoon opening by bulldozer each year to let the sea water come in an replenish the lagoon. Many native plants and animals have re-established themselves in the lagoon since this program began. What I can’t understand is why every city that opens its lagoon has to go through a legal battle to prove it’s good to do, when the arguments and conclusion are always the same, time after time.