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Beginning this fall, Nature Collective will be restoring 55 acres of land along Escondido Creek as part of a multi-year project.
California lies within the Pacific Flyway, an area that stretches from Alaska in the north to Patagonia in South America.
Each year at least a billion birds migrate along the Pacific Flyway, but habitat loss, water shortages, diminishing food sources, and climate change all threaten the birds of the Pacific Flyway.
Above: Animated map of the Pacific Flyway migration route. Photo: Open Space Trust.
The San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and the entire Escondido Creek watershed are critically important for birds moving along the Pacific Flyway, offering diverse habitats, food, and a place to stop and rest.
Last year, we were awarded a multi-year Pacific Flyway Conservation grant by the Wildlife Conservation Board to improve the habitat diversity along Escondido Creek. In the fall of 2021, we began work on this project by reducing areas of dense vegetation made up of invasive species, including eucalyptus trees.
The Wildlife Conservation Board awarded Nature Collective a second grant late last month to further support these efforts. This $2-million Escondido Creek Riparian Restoration grant will expand our habitat restoration efforts along Escondido Creek. New project sites include the Val Sereno Preserve in the Olivenhain area of Encinitas and the northeastern corner and La Orilla trailhead areas of the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.
Above: A map of habitat restoration sites included in the Pacific Flyway and the Escondido Creek Riparian projects.
Our main project goal is to significantly increase the riparian habitat’s ecological functions. We will remove invasive non-native trees, including eucalyptus, palms, and invasive understory plants, to attain this goal. We will also add riparian trees indigenous to the area, such as the California sycamore, the Fremont cottonwood, and other plants, to the existing mix of native trees and shrubs.
These actions will transform the understory, a layer of vegetation beneath the forest’s main canopy, into a rich and diverse mix of plants and shrubs indigenous to the area. Once established, the riparian trees will also create a beautiful canopy that will welcome more resident and migratory birds, including the federally endangered Least Bell’s Vireo. This small songbird thrives in riparian areas.
Above: The majestic California Sycamore can grow up to 100 feet.
Concentrating our restoration efforts along Escondido Creek will also enhance wildlife connectivity for mammals such as the Southern mule deer.
Above: Southern mule deer
We’ll need your help. Stay tuned for volunteer opportunities for this exciting project. In the meantime, keep looking for birds at San Elijo Lagoon who are making a stop along their migration journey.
Above: A San Elijo Lagoon visitor looks for birds at San Elijo Lagoon.
This project is funded by the Wildlife Conservation Board and is made possible by our project partners County of San Diego Parks and Recreation and the County of San Diego Public Works.
Grant awards and projects like this would not be possible without your support. Your donation helps Nature Collective identify urgent wildlife needs and plan the best course of action to give nature a helping hand. You help the Pacific Flyway to thrive. Give a gift today!
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Feature Image: Least Bell’s Vireo