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Saving what's left while it lasts (1 of 3)

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
September 24, 2007


Recently I have have been approached by Encinitas residents requesting I turn my attention to the issue of habitat conservation and open space acquisition, as if I haven't been obsessing about those issues for the past 12 years.

Sustainability is all about long term ecological balance, as it relates to quality of life. Biodiversity and functioning habitat are vital for the preservation of the region's environmental health and well-being. Preserving significant amounts of viable wildlife habitats is a necessity. The luxury of unchecked resource destruction and depletion is no longer affordable. Unchecked population growth continues to deepen San Diego County's ecological deficit.

Writing this, I am using Encinitas as a surrogate to highlight the question every city in the region is now forced to confront. How to conserve, preserve, and restore functioning habitats, wildlife corridors, and biological balance before it has all been paved over, is policy and procedure long overdue.

The City of Encinitas is now playing catch up.

To say the brain trust at city hall has been negligent would be wrong. After talking to Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan and numerous city employees in the Parks and Recreation and Planning Departments, including planning director Patrick Murphy, it's clear the only people being negligent are the council majority whose priorities do not include habitat conservation.

In a region quickly approaching complete build-out, the window for ecological preservation continues to narrow. Time is a luxury no longer available. Local, regional and state politicians know this. Contractors, builders, and environmentalists know this. And yes, Jerome Stocks, James Bond, and Danny Dalager, the Encinitas 3, know this. And yet they continue to discourage and delay habitat designation and open space preservation.

One case in point is the latest patch of viable open space lost to short sighted planning. Forty seven acres of southern willow scrub, coyote brush scrub, coastal sage scrub, southern maritime chaparral, southern mixed chaparral, and scrub oak chaparral at the western edge of Encinitas will soon include 19 homes on 10 acres of residential development.

Domestic pets, and exotic plants will do as much damage as the bulldozers over the long term. Fire prevention and fear of coyotes will further diminish any chance of biological sustainability. Documented edge effects will ensure the remaining open space will be encroached on, disturbed and labeled a safety threat by the new homeowners.

Known as the La Costa Parcel, and now Batiquitos Bluffs, city of Encinitas had ample reason to save this significant piece of open space, and it had ample warning that time was of the essence to save this key link of wildlife corridor. Encinitas also had ample time and resources to preserve and conserve the wildlife habitat of Batiquitos Bluffs. Council members Jerome Stocks, Dan Dalager, and James Bond were so caught up in their policy of playground politics they failed to do the ethical thing, opting instead for anti-environmental foot dragging.

Public comments on the invasive Batiquitos Bluffs development are being accepted for consideration until October 25, 2007.

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