Image by Chris Hoover

Ninety-percent of California's wetlands have been replaced by urban development. San Elijo Lagoon is a valuable part of what remains, but we are losing mudflat and salt marsh habitat. San Elijo Lagoon's unique ecosystem will vanish unless we act.

The San Elijo Lagoon Restoration plan applies the best available scientific information and analysis to the evaluation and design of a range of possible project approaches. Environmental effects and benefits have been estimated using approved models that have been successful in similar Southern California restorations. Planners and advisors include 15 diverse government agencies and citizens groups.

We estimate the San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project will cost $60 to $80 million. No private donations (individual, corporate or foundation) fund this project. Private donations support the Conservancy's core mission programs.

Lagoon Restoration is a component of The North Coast Corridor (NCC) Program that represents a $6 billion investment in the region that will be paid through a combination of federal, state, and local funds. The NCC Program is part of TransNet, the voter-approved regional half-cent sales tax for transportation, administered by SANDAG.

Restore and Maintain Rare Mudflat and Salt Marsh Habitat
Selective dredging and filling will improve tidal circulation. Breaching the weir east of I-5 will return marine influence and expand salt marsh eastward. Together, they provide continuity of habitats threatened by sea level rise. Phased construction will provide habitat refuges for resident species and will minimize disruption to public trails.

Ensure Quality Habitat for Estuarine Species
San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve supports a huge diversity of species: more than 400 species of plants and 300 species of birds, some of which are rare and endangered, such as the lovely sea dahlia and elusive Ridgeway’s Rail (formerly Clapper Rail).

Restore Water Quality
Wastewater from adjacent communities over many years has caused an unnatural buildup of organic material and nutrients in the sediment. These will be removed, restoring water quality.

Reduce Mosquitos
Improved circulation will reduce mosquitos that are vectors for human disease.

Huge Investment Potential
A monetary investment of tens of millions of dollars, a construction period of 3-4 years, and a further recovery period of 3-5 years, is a small price to restore and conserve the natural values of San Elijo Lagoon for the photographers, walkers, bird watchers, sunset viewers, and philosophers of future generations. 




TRAILS Updates
Several trail areas are closed as work is underway for highway and railroad improvements in the North Coast Corridor (NCC) program.  Go to Trails map.


JUNE 16, 2017: Progress has been made toward adding the second track between Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Solana Beach. As part of the San Elijo Lagoon Double Track Project, support columns will be put into place over the next several months weekdays from 7 am to 5 pm. 

Did you know? While there's a lot of changes going on, San Elijo Lagoon Restoration is not yet underway. Environmental work will evolve as Build NCC continues. And, we'll keep you posted with news announcements.


Doug Gibson, Exec Dir | Principal Scientist
San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
(760) 436-3944
restoration [at] sanelijo [dot] org