Our Conservation Projects

Tidal Circulation

Together, we reconnect the San Elijo Lagoon with the Pacific Ocean.

New, oxygen-rich water from the ocean means that our wildlife – and ecosystem – can survive. Thanks to a long-term financial endowment, we can facilitate tidal circulation. Plus, our Reviving Your Wetlands – San Elijo Lagoon Restoration project is also improving this critical process. Naturally, the lagoon used to reconnect to the ocean regularly. Due to modern infrastructure’s effects on the lagoon, we need to recreate that opening/closing cycle for the ecosystem’s health.

In San Diego, natural ecosystems like these need protection – and action. Let’s maintain our lagoon with a healthy ocean connection!

“When our organization was founded over 30 years ago, its purpose was to open the lagoon to the ocean. This imperative task is our foundation, and as we grow, this will always remain a central focus.”

— Doug Gibson, Executive director | Principal Scientist

What We Do

  • Open the inlet, which takes 10 days on average, and we complete this annually.
  • Remove built-up sand under the Highway 101 bridge and within the San Elijo Lagoon inlet channel, using earth-moving construction equipment.
  • Enact an emergency opening when the inlet closes and dissolved oxygen drops to critical levels needed for wildlife survival.
Man and woman stand at trailside overlooking the San Elijo Lagoon

Why We Do It

  • To ensure nearly year-round tidal circulation within the San Elijo Lagoon, which means the wildlife gets healthy water to survive — and thrive — in.
  • Because long-term closures of the inlet would lead to fish kills due to lack of dissolved oxygen, harmful bacteria levels in the water, and suitable conditions for excessive mosquitos.

Key Initiatives

  • New I-5 Bridge Construction improves the lagoon’s tidal flow.
  • Mechanical Breaching to open up the inlet – removing sand buildup – is necessary each year.
  • Opening the Lagoon to the Ocean is why the Nature Collective (then known as the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy) was established in 1987.
  • Water Quality Monitoring provides real-time data on the health of the water.
  • Reducing Freshwater Mosquitos for environmental + public health.

Learn More

Escondido Creek Restoration
Restoration Brings May Wildflowers
Dreaming Awake
Inside SRF
Ripples of Connectivity
Nothing and Everything
Heavy Rain Opens Inlet
Wandering Skipper Habitat Restoration to Begin September
Tropical Storm Hilary Causes Fish Die-Off in San Elijo Lagoon
Pride Outside at San Elijo Lagoon
Herpetology Study at San Elijo Lagoon
Welcome All to Your Restored Wetland
Nest-Ready Refuge
Growing up with the Lagoon
Find Your Passion
You are a Nature Hero
Digging in Deeper
A Career in Conservation Begins
Welcome, President Circle Chair
THANK-uary Heroes + Leonard Family Foundation
Today is Giving Tuesday! Give to Nature.
Is Nature in Your Holiday Giving?
Pacific Flyway Conservation Grant Award
Ecosystems in Action
Tar Ball Removal Update
Tar Ball Monitoring + Removal
Opening the Outdoors + Field Trips Resume
Underwater Meadows of Life
lmproving WildLife + Batiquitos Lagoon
Bird Counts are Back!
Nurturing an Environmental Leader
Welcome, Ramona School Children!
Are Ridgway’s Rails Travelers?
Give Love: In Memory and In Honor
Cardiff Beach Living Shoreline Gets More Sand: June 1-8
Life + Livelihoods + Your Volunteerism
Escondido to Ithaca: Carol’s Watershed Journey
Saving Dunes and Bluffs + Carlsbad
California Trails + Greenways Award Announced for Harbaugh Seaside Trails
Spring Break Hike with Friends
Wildflower Hour
Join Earth Day Hero Challenge
Your Nature Journey Continues!
Enhancing Wildlife Corridors + Agua Hedionda Lagoon
Pole Trail News + Views
A Rare Succulent in Bloom
Wetland Revived | The Natural Observer
Nature At Work | The Natural Observer
Beyond Strawberries | The Natural Observer
Thank You + Nature Love
2021 Board of Directors
Colors on the Pole Trail
THANK-uary Hero + Union Bank Foundation
THANK-uary Heroes + Leonard Family Foundation
Support the Healing Power of Nature
Your Gift Protects Your Home Away from Home
Discovery Kits for Nature’s Kids
Grateful in Nature + Giving Forward
Finn Brings Nature Closer
A Family Hiking Tradition
Bridging Coastal Communities
Fields of Dreams
Big Habitat Help for Little Peeps
Peace on the Trails
Their Winding Path Leads On
The Summer of Nature Love
For the Love of Birds + Nature
Marine Protected Area Ambassadors
Grassroots Style
Growing Up + Working Outdoors
Flowering After Fire
Natural Connector
June + Your Nature Collective Team
Thank You + Spring Giving Heroes
Sand + Soil Elevations for Rising Seas
Join Giving Tuesday Now
May News + Views
Join Earth Day Art Challenge
Working with Nature
Nature Nurtures Her Soul
National Outdoor Science Award
Nature + Essential Services
Inspiring Kids with Nature Joy
Nature Soothes Us Now
More People Need Nature


Lagoon Views


The Beginning of Finishing Touches + Lagoon Restoration


Now Open! Harbaugh Seaside Trails
Bake Sale for the Birds
An Encinitas Love Story
Nature’s Family Playground
Season of Giving Back
Greening + Lagoon Restoration
THANK-UARY + Matching Gift Foundation
Leading By Example
Your Year-End Gifts Are Matched!
Giving Tuesday Begins! Nature Needs Your Support.
Your Holiday Gifts Are Matched!
Final Donor Tiles Available + Harbaugh Seaside Trails
Next Gen Science
Visiting Jimmy’s Bench
Shaping Emerging Leaders
In AWE of You! Gala Funds Nature for All
Brush Fire Extinguished + San Elijo Lagoon
Nature Collective’s AWE Auction + 2 Days Left!
Stopping Sea Lavender + Agua Hedionda Lagoon
The Science Behind Tea Time + San Elijo Lagoon
Escondido Charitable Foundation + More Kids Outdoors
Be In AWE! Gala Auction Underway
Bidding Begins! Join AWE Auction
Art + Nature at Harbaugh Seaside Trails
Your Impacts + Your Gifts
Welcome, Vista Unified School District!
Coming “Dune” This Fall + Lagoon Restoration
Your Gifts + Loving Nature
Opening the Outdoors + The San Diego Foundation
Cord Grass Nursery + Lagoon Restoration
New Trail Underway + Lagoon Restoration
Summer Camps Grow Youth Leaders
Grant Award + Harbaugh Seaside Trails
Encinitas New Trail Celebration
We are Nature Collective
High Tide Clearing at San Elijo Lagoon Inlet
San Elijo Lagoon Inlet Opens
Flowing Tides + New Trail Beginnings

Get Involved at the Nature Collective

Join up with fellow nature-loving individuals . . . and help restore the natural balance of our unique saltwater wetlands.

Our Tidal Circulation Supporters

Carl Biehl Endowment

California Coastal Conservancy

County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health

Frances Hamilton White Foundation

US Fish and Wildlife Service