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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
February 12, 2001


Score another point for the environmentalists. Last week the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy added 21 acres to their preservation portfolio. By purchasing the blighted ranch land the conservancy will be able to replace it with a native habit wildlife buffer. Erasing human encroachment is always a good thing.

This marks a turn for the non-profit organization, as it shifts to a more aggressive acquisition policy. The funding for this recent purchase came from a 1.4 million grant from the Ford Motor Company. As far as environmental gestures go this was a good one. Greenwash or not, saving 21 acres of watershed from development is a success. The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy should be commended for it's good fortune.

By no means should this be considered a victory, the battle is far from over. There is still a considerable amount of watershed to be incorporated into the ecological reserve. There is also the campaign to relocate proposed soccer fields away from San Elijo Lagoon, and the ongoing effort to prevent Kathleen Porterfield from relocating her country day school next to the lagoon.

Due to a growing army of activists learning the tricks of the trade, environmentalists are gaining ground in North County. The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, under the strong direction of Doug Gibson, is just one example of citizens coming together to save what's left of native Southern California. Some folks are saving toads, others riparian wetlands, the most hard-pressed are those struggling to prevent the biotic communities known as vernal pools from slipping into oblivion.

Recent winners in the conservation sweepstakes are Peninsula Big horn Sheep and the Quino checkerspot butterfly as a significant amount of habitat has been set aside for their continued survival. In a region known throughout the world as an extinction hot spot, any space in San Diego County not committed to development becomes instant habitat as animals seek refuge.

The people doing conservation, preservation, and restoration work are modern day Noahs. Trying to preserve biodiversity in a region obsessed with growth is a thankless job, often met with derision by those unwilling, or unable to recognize that there must be some restraint. Threatened by anyone with a sense of environmental ethics, most people would rather loose themselves in a comfortable denial than confront their own limitations.

While I'm on the subject of comfortable denial, I attended Supervisor Bill Horn's recent State of the County address. Complete with beauty queens and the Marine Corps Band, this event made it quite clear what environmentalists will have to deal with now that Bill Horn is Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors. Waiting for the program to begin, the man sitting next to me noticed that of the evening's sponsors, seven of them were influential members of the Building Industry Association.

Now as if that wasn't enough to serve as a wake up call, Supervisor Horn stating to the hundreds in attendance that environmentalists were responsible for the energy crisis and the regions traffic gridlock, certainly did. Hell, even the pastor doing the opening prayer seemed to imply that Jesus was on the side of uncontrolled growth.

Supervisor Horns's speech, sprinkled with enough references to god, country, and property rights, left me with the notion I had somehow stumbled into a republican revival meeting. Environmentalists should savor their recent victories because with Mr. Horn at the helm we are in for a very bumpy ride.

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