The Northern San Diego County Lagoons Historical Ecology Investigation draws on hundreds of historical documents to analyze and reconstruct historical landscape conditions for six northern San Diego County estuaries prior to the major modifications of the late 19th and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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2012 to 2014
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Resilient Landscapes Program
Historical Ecology
Shoreline Resilience
Location Information