Score another one for the good guys.
Over the past couple of months conservation activists along the San Elijo watershed have been very successful in their efforts to protect biological treasures from the eastern border of Escondido to the Pacific Ocean. Which just goes to show what can be done with a commitment to environmental preservation, marketing savvy, and some friends in the right places.
On February 1st, the Escondido Creek Conservancy (TECC) became the proud owners of 76.2-acre undeveloped parcel along Escondido Creek. Adjacent to the 750-acre Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, the parcel will remain as open space, and added to a larger, continuous block of unspoiled habitat. Protected by the acquisition will be indigenous plants and animals hard pressed by the relentless development of once plentiful habitat. Contributing to the scenic beauty of this invaluable piece native California are coastal sage scrub, southern mixed chaparral, and 6.5 acres of riparian woodland. Higher elevations on site will protect view sheds and help preserve the spectacular beauty of San Elijo Canyon. This is a very good thing.
A week later officials for the San Elijo Lagoon ( SELC) announced the purchase of another 21-acres adjacent to the Escondido Creek. Considered key to the lagoon's health, the triangular-shaped parcel is set in a valley on the east side of Manchester Avenue, where two fingers of Escondido Creek converge in Encinitas. The property originally intended for a horse ranch and equestrian training facility was purchased from the Kirkorowicz family after a long-standing feud between neighbors. Plans to build on the site were shot down by the state Coastal Commission because it would have destroyed wetlands and posed a perpetual threat to the ecological reserve. The lagoon conservancy, which opposed the horse ranch project, bought the property using grant money from the Ford Motor Co. Fund.
Unwilling to rest on the laurels of such a brilliant accomplishment, The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy recently brought another 11 acres of prime wildlife habitat, under their protective care. Located next to the 22 acres purchased in February, the new parcel is graced by an active nesting rookery of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets. Purchased with grant money and under the wise guidance of Supervisor Pam Slater this addition to the coastal sanctuary places the SELC at the California conservation movement. Providing a model that demonstrates how corporations, environmentalists, and future focused elected officials, can work together to preserve biological resources vital to our regional well-being, the result is one that will benefits anyone to willing to experience the good fortune.
With Escondido Creek Conservancy volunteers working to restore, and protect, the upper reaches of Escondido Creek not yet destroyed by the City of Escondido, things are certainly looking up. And with the savvy environmental activists of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy working tirelessly to hold back human encroachment into fragile and endangered habitat, it is safe to say future residents will be grateful for the 20/20 vision being employed on their behalf.
This is not the time to relax however. With the voracious Kathleen Porterfield circling the watershed like a hungry vulture, there will be little rest for the weary. Now that I think of it, with George W. Bush leading the anti-environmental jihad nationwide the next four years will see many of us earning combat pay. Even if it looks like we are losing the war, it's nice to know the battle for Escondido Creek and the San Elijo Estuary is being won.