Restoration, trail proposed for San Dieguito Lagoon

The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority (JPA) has released its draft environmental impact report for a proposed San Dieguito Lagoon Restoration and new trail connection.

The draft environmental impact report (EIR) will be available for a 45-day public review comment period through April 24 and a public meeting on the project will be held on Tuesday, April 4 at 6 p.m. at the Del Mar Fairgrounds board room.

The proposed project is about 141 acres, located east of Interstate-5, south of Via de la Valle and west/northwest of El Camino Real. The proposed project would supplement recent restoration efforts within the San Dieguito Lagoon by establishing a wetland habitat in a portion of the lagoon system referred to as W-19.

“The W-19 restoration project will add to and complement the wetland restoration done in 2010 by Southern California Edison, which in total will represent over 580 acres of newly restored wetlands,” said Shawna Anderson, principal planner at the San Dieguito River Park JPA. “ New salt marsh, riparian, and brackish marsh habitats will benefit wildlife species that frequent the lagoon and river valley, including the endangered light-footed Ridgeway’s rail and California least tern, as well as improve the overall function and health of the lagoon ecosystem. Visitors will be able to view the wetlands from a proposed new public trail without harming the sensitive habitat.”

The project’s new one-mile recreational trail generally parallels El Camino Real, linking to the Dust Devil Nature Trail along the southern edge and extending north to near the El Camino Real Bridge for future connection to the Coast to Crest Trail.

Where the new trail begins at the northern loop of the Dust Devil Nature Trail off El Camino Real, it would generally be 6 feet wide, surfaced with decomposed granite (DG) and designated for hikers, runners and pedestrians only (no bicycles or equestrian use). The trail would then widen at the approach to the El Camino Real Bridge and the widened section would be multi-use with a 6-foot-wide DG section for hikers and bicycles, and a four-foot-wide soft dirt section for equestrian users.

Rustic, split-rail fencing would extend along portions of the trail to enhance public safety and deter users from entering adjacent areas of sensitive vegetation. The trail would eventually connect to pedestrian lanes along the new El Camino Real Bridge across the river, expected to begin construction in 2018.

Prior to completion of the bridge, the trail would only be accessible from the south. Trail users could park at the Dust Devil Nature Trail parking lot off of El Camino Real. Once the future connection at the bridge is made, trail users could also use the parking lot off San Andres Drive to access the Coast to Crest network.

According to the draft EIR, the proposed project would result in significant and unavoidable temporary impacts in the areas of biological resources; traffic, access and circulation; and noise. The EIR also includes some significant impacts that could be reduced to less than significant through mitigation.

The draft EIR is available for review at sdrp.org/wordpress/portfolio/w-19-restoration. Comments on the draft-EIR must be received by 5 p.m. on April 24 and must be submitted in writing to: Shawna@sdrp.org or San Dieguito River Park JPA, 18372 Sycamore Creek Road, Escondido, CA 92025, Attention: Ms. Shawna Anderson.

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