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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
October 5, 1998


There is a network of creeks running through the cities of North San Diego County. Creeks which are under a constant barrage from the encroachment of overdevelopment. Managed out of existence, these arteries once supported life in a dry desert environment only to be channelized, covered and then forgotten.

In 1943, Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac introduced the world to the concept of a land ethic, "The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land." Leopold referred to this as the Biotic Community. Way ahead of his time, he had called for a new relationship with our natural environmental, a relationship that has yet to be achieved.

The reason I bring up the concept of the biotic community, is to illustrate the current mismanagement of the riparian corridors that are integral to the survival of native species. Currently creeks are currently under assault, and local municipalities are hastening there demise in the name of economics.

Buena Vista Creek now sits under a Starbucks and a Target along Sycamore Blvd. When North County Square was being designed there was ample opportunity to protect and preserve the creek as it ran along the eastern side of the property. The Vista City Council turned a blind eye to the plants and animals that lived there. Newport National, a developer from Orange County told me that if they saved the 1.9 acres of creek habitat it would cost them 1.9 acres of parking, which would result in a loss of 1.9 acres of revenue. So much for community.

The San Marcos Creek is currently being salivated over by the individuals who own Old California Restaurant Row. As if the monstrosity of a movie complex wasn't enough, they now want to cross San Marcos Blvd. to develop an upscale retail plaza in the middle of a flood plain. Oh sure, they say they will retain the creek for aesthetic value. But in what form? You can bet it will be enhanced a la Disney. Adding insult to injury Carlsbad has decided dynamite Box Canyon to discourage access. With Lake San Marcos already altering the native habitat, how much more can the San Marcos Creek take?

In Encinitas, Cottonwood creek is only a creek in name, having been altered so many times. More a storm drain than anything else, large pipes empty runoff onto Moonlight Beach, not a pretty sight. Other creeks in Encinitas fare little better. Encinitas Creek is now surrounded by development, and has been channelized as it runs beside the Ecke Ranch stripmall. Far from over, Carlsbad will further alter the creek as it develops the Green Valley site.

The current poster child for human ignorance and indifference is Loma Alta Creek. With it's headwaters in Vista it runs to the coast were it meets the Pacific at Buccaneer Beach. Prone to jumping it's channelization, this creek is holding it's own by reminding nearby residents that natural environments should not be taken for granted. But like they say, "where encroachment won't get them, pollution will."

Contaminated by sewage and run-off on a regular basis, Loma Alta Creek has been polluted by two Oceanside business's that have been in violation of the Clean Water Act for years. One, Tri-City Plating, has been in violation since 1981. Now the icing on a toxic cake, the city of Vista wants to put a trash transfer site at the headwaters of the creek. Whatever happen to common sense?

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