Leader of San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy honored

Doug Gibson has dedicated 20 years to conservation and education at the San Elijo Lagoon, earning him his own day.

Friends, family and colleagues honored Gibson, the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy’s executive director and principal scientist, with a surprise party on May 2 at Tower 13 in Cardiff.

Against the backdrop of the lagoon he’s worked hard to preserve, two North County mayors and a county supervisor presented him with proclamations declaring May 2 as "Doug Gibson Conservation Leadership Day."

"I’m proud that we’ve come a long way," Gibson said after the gathering.

He said the health of the lagoon has improved drastically in two decades, thanks to conservancy-led projects like native plant restorations and an annual dredge that reconnects the lagoon mouth to the Pacific Ocean. Gibson added he’s especially proud that the nonprofit has acquired several chunks of the lagoon for preservation.

"That’s a big highlight for me," he said.

Much is in store, too. Gibson said the conservancy is planning a multi-year project that will reshape the wetland to optimize tidal flow. This will improve the water quality, and thus the health of wildlife and fish.

The 979-acre reserve is one of San Diego’s largest coastal wetlands. The community saved it from being developed in the early 1970s, eventually sparking the conservancy.

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