Doug is interviewed by Erik Anderson / KPBS at Harbaugh Seaside Trails Unveiling

Doug Gibson is a wetland ecologist. For 21 years, he has directed the science-based and community conservation programs for San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. He completed the first experimental phase of the inlet opening at San Elijo Lagoon in the mid 1990s. At that time, the lagoon’s water quality was so poor that few fishes and invertebrates could survive. Proposed developments adjacent to the lagoon further threatened the vitality of one of San Diego’s largest coastal wetlands.
San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to protecting and enhancing San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. Securing funding for an endowment, and building member and donor support to carry on the mission of the Conservancy became key priorities.
Gibson blends his extensive knowledge of Southern California coastal wetlands policy with scientific literacy, and fundraising outreach experience to his role as executive director and principal scientist. He came to San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, where he directed field efforts for the Navy Homeporting Sand Replenishment Project. Prior to the Conservancy, his consulting firm, Gibson Monitoring, coordinated scientific monitoring for various agencies and nonprofit organizations. Spanning 14 years, Gibson participated in the planning of large restoration projects in seven north San Diego County watersheds, including Buena Vista Lagoon, San Dieguito Lagoon, San Elijo Lagoon, and Carlsbad Hydrologic Unit.
Under Gibson’s vision for the Conservancy, awareness and support have soared, and more than 60 additional acres have been acquired for the reserve. Gibson is responsible for raising more than 15 million dollars for projects at San Elijo Lagoon and the Hydrologic Unit in the last decade. Forty miles of streams have been restored by the Conservancy’s efforts in controlling invasive plants. His work in raising endowment funds to maintain the annual breaching of the inlet, and for science and educational outreach activities, has led to more consistent funding. Conservancy school programs incorporate state standards and conservation (action-oriented) curricula, which increases visitation of the lagoon by our youngest future stewards.
Gibson’s leadership focus extends beyond the reserve’s borders into his civic and scientific advisory roles. He is chair of San Diego County Wetlands Task Force; and chair of five coastal counties for Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project. He is also a member of Carlsbad Watershed Network, Escondido Creek Watershed Alliance, and Regional Advisory Committee for Integrated Regional Watershed Management Plan.

A native of Boise, Idaho, Gibson received his B.S. in Wetlands Ecology from San Diego State University, with concentrated work in SDSU’s Pacific Estuarine Research Lab.

San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust with the mission to protect and restore the 979-acre San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, its watershed, and related ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations. 


Doug Gibson
Executive Director & Principal Scientist
San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
doug [at] sanelijo [dot] org
(760) 436-3944 x 707

Image below:
Gibson leads a President's Council tour at Santa Carina