The Northern San Diego County Lagoons Historical Ecology Investigation draws on hundreds of historical documents to analyze and reconstruct historical landscape conditions for six northern San Diego County estuaries prior to the major modifications of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The six estuaries - Buena Vista Lagoon, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon, San Elijo Lagoon, San Dieguito Lagoon, and Los Peñasquitos Lagoon – are situated at the mouths of broad river valleys along 18 miles of coastline between Oceanside and Torrey Pines. This study shows that the lagoons experienced highly dynamic, variable environmental conditions and supported a diverse array of habitats and native species in the recent past. Though the lagoons have experienced widespread transformation over the past centuries, elements of the lagoon ecosystems have persisted.
Today, these estuaries are the focus of numerous restoration and management efforts that aim to enhance lagoon function by reducing flooding, increasing tidal circulation, and increasing the acreage and quality of wildlife habitat, among many other objectives. The findings from this study are intended to support these efforts by providing information that, in combination with contemporary research and future projections, will support and guide restoration design, planning, and management of these and other coastal wetland systems in northern San Diego County.
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This project builds on earlier efforts to provide comprehensive analysis of the 40 T-sheets that cover the southern California Bight (SCB) from Point Conception to the US-Mexico border. High quality scans of the original T-sheets produced between 1851 and 1889 were obtained along with the surveyor notes.
This project is the first regional assessment of the relative distribution and abundance of different wetland habitat types along the historical Southern California coastline ("South Coast"). The extent of South Coast wetlands has been dramatically reduced over the past 150 years, and there are now many large-scale efforts to recover some of these environments.