REGION — Groups and parties still interested in a “sneak preview” of sorts of the long-anticipated restoration of the San Elijo Lagoon can still request a presentation from the group charged with preserving it.
The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy has been conducting presentations throughout the community in advance of the release of the environmental study of the proposed lagoon restoration, which is tentatively scheduled for July.
The restoration of the lagoon, one of only a handful remaining coastal wetlands statewide, has been in the works since 2002, said Doug Gibson, executive director and principal scientist for San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy.
“We are starting to wind down and are gearing up for the release of the environmental document,” Gibson said. “It’s a big milestone to get to this step.”
Located on the border of Encinitas and Solana Beach, the 979-acre lagoon is home to more than 700 species of plants and animals, many rare and endangered. The lagoon is also popular with runners, bird watchers and wildlife photographers.
Urban development has resulted in the disappearance of mudflat and saltmarsh habitats, with mudflats being the primary food source for many of the lagoon’s animals. Conservancy officials estimate that the mudflat habitat will disappear in five years if action is not taken.
State and federal regulations require environmental studies to determine how the environmental impacts of large projects such as the lagoon restoration can be eliminated or lessened before the project can begin. The public will be able to review and comment on the environmental report after its release at several public meetings.
Local, state and federal agencies must sign off on the report before the restoration can begin.
Gibson said the conservancy is hoping to start the project by January 2016.
The conservancy has given eight presentations since April to local clubs and organizations. Groups interested in having a presentation can contact the Conservancy by email at email@example.com or call (760) 436-3944 ext. 704.