OCEANSIDE — The North County Advocates (NCA) has pledged to give $50,000 to The Buena Vista Audubon Society’s (BVAS) campaign to buy two pieces of land for ecological conservation. The campaign called The Clapper Rail Society, after the endangered light-footed clapper rail bird, aims to raise $1 million to go towards purchasing and restoring two parcels of land.
One of the properties is a 3.56-acre property on the South Coast Highway in South Oceanside bordering the Buena Vista Lagoon. The sensitive wetlands are the habitat for the endangered light-footed clapper rail. The BVAS hopes to make the property part of the Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve and to establish an endowment for ongoing habitat management.
The NCA is a nonprofit organization that aims to curtail over-development of coastal lands in North County and to curb the negative effects of increased traffic and zoning density, according to their website.
“We are thrilled to assist the BVAS with these purchases because we know how precious our natural spaces are becoming in San Diego’s coastal communities,” said Patricia Bleha, director and founding member of the NCA.
“Preserving natural habitats for endangered species while ensuring a healthy balance of open space and development with area cities is our main focus,” said Bleha.
The other piece of land BVAS is trying to buy is a 31-acre property between the San Luis Rey River and Camp Pendleton. It would link together four contiguous protected habitats. The society would like to restore the property with sage brush and chaparral to make the land hospitable to the endangered California gnatcatcher, Andy Mauro, vice president of the BVAS, writes on their website.
The close proximity to Camp Pendleton, “represents a unique opportunity for partnership,” writes Mauro. The U.S. Navy has entered into a memorandum of understanding to share equally in the purchase of the land and to fund restoration and on-going management of the new habitat.
The BVAS expects the properties to cost between $3 million and $4 million, according to Mauro. The society has committed $50,000 for the properties to go into escrow and has already raised $120,000 for The Clapper Rail Society campaign. The Preserve Calavera organization has also donated $50,000 to the campaign. The Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation and personal contributions from the staff of the BVAS make up the other $20,000 in contributions.
The Environmental Impact Report will be completed on the Buena Vista Lagoon parcel within a year, which is expected to free up additional funds, according to Maura.