Staff members from Grand Del Mar help restore Los Peñasquitos Preserve

For the second year in a row, The Grand Del Mar staff members gave a little something back to the canyon they call home. On a sunny March 24 afternoon, 23 employees ventured down into the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve to complete a restoration project, planting 250 native species.

For many, it was their first time visiting the canyon that provides their resort with its spectacular setting and views.

“We love it. We are located in one of the most beautiful natural preserves in North America,” said Tom Voss, president of The Grand Del Mar, who often hikes the canyon with friends. “We are part of the preserve and it’s important for us to respect this area.”

For their restoration project, the resort employees had guidance from their on-site naturalist Dylan Jones, city rangers Gina Washington and John Garwood, and Mike Kelley from the Friends of Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve.

Voss, along with workers from the concierge, housekeeping, spa and security departments, trekked down the rocky Cobbles trail to the waterfall area of the preserve, past the frogs croaking in Duck Pond, which, due to this year’s rains, had its highest water levels since 2004.

The resort donated the 250 plants, native species such as lemonade berry, black sage, scrub oak and California sagebrush. Little red flags marked the plants that have grown since last February’s restoration project, but they were largely crowded out by the non-native black mustard.

“This is our foe today,” Jones said, pointing out the leafy green plant with mustard yellow flowers.

Before doing any re-planting, The Grand Del Mar team had to remove all of the mustard plants, which had thrived this year because of the rain. The invasive, non-native species fights the native plants for water, ground space and nutrients.

Voss said he hopes that the restoration effort is an annual project for resort employees.