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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
April 5, 1999


One of the perks of writing a column is the chance to meet a host of individuals who are working county-wide to stop the wheels of destruction. When I make a statement regarding a certain issue, I can count on at least three phone calls from people in the trenches, offering to supply me with even more ammunition.

Case in point was my column last week on the offensive proposal to place a landfill in Gregory Canyon. Mentioning that this dump would straddle the San Luis Rey River, what I didn't say was that this river is situated in a flood plain. So as you can imagine a landfill liner will do little to stop the massive pollution that would result from erosion produced by El Nino type storms.

Something else unmentioned was the ongoing assault of the river itself. For those of you who have been keeping score, last year local congressmen Ron Packard and Randy Cunningham fought to make sure the San Luis Rey River would not be considered for federal designation as an American Heritage River. Such a designation would have preempted any consideration of using Gregory Canyon as a garbage dump.

In 1995 the San Luis Rey River Resources Report was prepared for the County of San Diego. This document encompasses the western portion of the San Luis Rey River watershed extending from Lake Henshaw Dam to the Pacific Ocean. The San Luis Rey River Resources Report is defined as "the first phase in the development of the San Luis Rey River Comprehensive Plan." Ironically, comprehensive plans tend to be myopic in nature.

Although the report identifies the Gregory Canyon Landfill as a proposed land use. It also mentions 18 MHCP target Sensitive Species, and 11 non-target species. The evaluation recognizes the proposed dump site as a "buffer" for the Cleveland National Forest, and the San Luis Rey River as the most important wildlife corridor in the area.

At what point do we, as tax paying residents, start demanding that our elected officials read the reports we are paying for? On page 4-42 the document states, "It may not be possible to mitigate all impacts resulting from a landfill at the Gregory Canyon site. Potential impacts relate to water quality, visual character, traffic, and air quality." I wonder if the County Board of Supervisors will read the Environmental Impact Report currently before them. More importantly, I wonder if they are going to read the responses from those opposing what already seems to be a done deal.

At a time when the County Board of Supervisors are mouthing platitudes about smart growth, were does the idea to place a landfill in a recognized MHCP area fall. How smart is it to place a landfill next to a major river, and within the drainage area of several aqueducts? By launching a "smart growth" campaign, those seeking to develop every last inch of San Diego County, have merely relabeled their old agenda as "New and Improved."

I admit we have a serious problem with post-consumer waste here in North County. The solution, however, is not destroying vital native habitats at a time when they are already at the brink. What we must do is stop consuming so much non-recyclable materials. If the County Board of Supervisors really want to protect the Quality of life for those they represent they need to stop giving lip service to smart growth and start talking about environmental sustainability. We all should.

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