Native shrubbery starts process back with conservancy’s help

Native shrubbery starts process back with conservancy’s help
Volunteers grab cups full of native seeds for broadcasting around Cottonwood Creek near Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. Photo by Tony Cagala

ENCINITAS — The native trees and shrubs that were cut down to the ground at Cottonwood Creek near Moonlight Beach are showing signs of coming back — to some extent.

Branches of some of the shrubs have grown askew, thin branches of other trees are sprouting next to the remnants of the once thick, healthy trunks.

Last January, the city had hired a maintenance company to cut down the native shrubbery to maintain a “view corridor.”

The cutting down of those native shrubs was “disheartening,” said Brad Roth of the Cottonwood Creek Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with the goal of restoring and maintaining the creek and surrounding habitat.

But on Saturday, volunteers with the San Dieguito Academy, Boy Scout Troop 777 and the conservancy worked to re-establish those native shrubs, planting about 50 native plants, which the city had purchased for them, and broadcasting native seeds throughout the slopes of the creek.

“This really wasn’t a presentable place to go for a really long time,” said Kathleen Lees, who was helping to plant the new native shrubs.

“Now it’s here. Now it’s available,” she added.

The Cottonwood Creek Conservancy first started working the area in the ‘90s, saving it from becoming a parking lot at one point. It’s become a popular spot for birders with sightings of Green Herons fishing the creek recently.

Roth added that there’s evidence, too, that the bird count in the area is up.

He added that maintaining the creek is a balancing act. For the city, it’s about public safety; for the conservancy it’s about nurturing wildlife.

It’ll be about 10 years, Roth said, to get the newly planted shrubs where they want them to be.

The Cottonwood Creek Conservancy continues to restore and work the creek the second Saturday of each month from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Volunteers are encouraged to attend. The conservancy meets at the trail entrance near the pump station at the corner of Encinitas Boulevard and Third Street.

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