These photos were taken in April 2019. Since the onset of COVID-19, all of our volunteer efforts have shifted to virtual participation.
In honor of World Wetlands Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 2 each year, we are highlighting one of our region’s many wetlands – San Dieguito Lagoon. Through operational efforts and employee volunteerism, we are working to support the ongoing restoration and conservation of San Dieguito Lagoon and Watershed.
Restoring Wetlands Through Environmentally-Mindful Operations
As part of our commitment to delivering reliable energy to our customers, we are always evaluating ways to increase energy reliability. A recent engineering assessment on TL 666, an older transmission line with poles in both Penasquitos and San Dieguito Lagoon, revealed that the line was ready for replacement and relocation. we realized the company could remove the transmission infrastructure.
Then, we were able to convert some of the overhead distribution circuits underground, resulting in the permanent removal of roughly 34 poles, including 6 from the San Dieguito Lagoon and 11 poles from Los Penasquitos Lagoon. Not only will this project improve the safety and reliability of energy service to customers in that region, but it will also help restore this important wetland by eliminating operations and maintenance activities within the sensitive lagoon habitat areas.
When this energy infrastructure was installed decades ago, most didn’t recognize the significant environmental value of lagoons, wetlands and other natural lands. Now that the importance of wetlands is well-established, we always avoid placing infrastructure in sensitive habitats.
Roughly 15 years ago, we removed similar infrastructure from Los Penasquitos Lagoon, and the San Dieguito project will follow a similar process. This fall, after bird nesting season is over, our trained crews will use a helicopter to remove power lines from the poles. Then, crews will access the poles on foot and carefully cut them at the base to bring them out of the lagoon. This process ensures minimal habitat disruption.
Volunteering to Restore Sensitive Habitats
Our Environmental All-Stars employee volunteer program regularly mobilizes employees and their families to give back locally through service. In recent years, volunteers have partnered with both San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC) and San Diego Canyonlands to support restoration projects along the lagoon and parts of the larger San Dieguito watershed, including Crest Canyon.
In April 2019, our employees joined San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy for I Love A Clean San Diego’s Creek to Bay Cleanup at the Del Mar River Path, adjacent to the lagoon. There, employees replaced ice plant and other non-native plant species, with native, habitat-appropriate vegetation.
The previous summer, employees and their families volunteered with San Diego Canyonlands at Crest Canyon, which is directly adjacent to San Dieguito Lagoon and full of invasive ice plant.
These two projects are part of our long-standing participation in San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC) Coastal Cleanup Day, an event where employees and their families volunteer at various points along the San Dieguito Lagoon and San Dieguito River Park.
Connecting With San Dieguito Lagoon
San Dieguito Lagoon and the entire San Dieguito Watershed benefits from the work of multiple conservation organizations who steward, preserve and restore its natural lands. Our company has an extensive partnership with SDVRC, whose mission is to preserve, protect and share the natural and cultural resources of the San Dieguito River Valley through land acquisitions, public education programs, recreational amenities and more.
Their Coast to Crest trail challenge encourages locals to hike the trails to explore the varying topography that exists along the watershed. The organization also offers citizen science programs and has been proactive in adapting these programs for virtual engagement during COVID-19. Additionally, SDRVC has been a frequent recipient of our Shareholder-funded Environmental Champions grant to support youth environmental education and outdoor engagement programs. You can learn more about San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy at https://sdrvc.org/.