The 2014 avian survey of the Bernardo Mountain Preserve, San Dieguito River Park, San Diego
County, California determined the point locations, territories, and breeding status of two rare
songbirds, the California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) and the Coastal Cactus
Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus cousei). Eleven field surveys conducted between 14
March and 21 June detected a total of twelve gnatcatcher and three Cactus Wren territories
within the preserve. This compares favorably with previous surveys conducted after the Witch
Fire of 2007 despite the continuation of a three-year drought. Our observations show that the
gnatcatcher, in particular, has expanded into revegetated areas. Cactus Wrens, with their more
specific requirements, are still largely confined to cactus scrub that did not burn in 2007 as
replanted cactus has yet to reach a height suitable for nest-building. Other vertebrates noted
during the survey include sixty-six additional species of birds, four species of mammals, and five
species of reptiles.
In 2008 San Diego Association of Government (SANDAG) awarded to the San Dieguito River Park (SDRP) a Transnet EMP grant for several Park projects. A component of that grant was invasive plant species control. SDRP utilized the grant funds to enhance and expand several projects throughout the watershed. Projects ranged from pond and oak woodland restoration in Santa Ysabel to high salt marsh enhancement and mitigation in Del Mar.
The After the Fires Funds 2007 were utilized to provide immediate benefits to wildlife by expanding habitat adjacent to areas that did not burn and contained one or both of the restoration project's species of focus; California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica)and Coastal Cactus Wren
(Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus sandiegensis). Work on this project was guided by the goal of providing immediate benefits to these birds because the fate of the San Dieguito River Park's ("Park") populations will have regionwide implications.
Southern California Edison Company (SCE) is the majority owner and operator of the San
Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The California Coastal Commission (CCC)
issued a Coastal Development Permit (No. 6-81-330-A3, as amended; formerly permit No.
183-73) for the construction of SONGS Units 2 & 3 with the condition that SCE fund the
independent evaluation of the impacts of SONGS' on the marine environment. The Coastal
Development Permit (Permit) further requires that SCE mitigate any significant adverse
impacts. The CCC determined that SONGS adversely impacted bightwide fish stocks and
required SCE to mitigate those losses. As partial satisfaction of the mitigation requirements,
SCE was required to create or substantially restore at least 150 acres of wetlands in
After considering the results of a site-selection study that included an evaluation of eight
potential sites throughout Southern California, the CCC concluded that the San Dieguito
Lagoon (SDL) in Del Mar offered the best opportunity for achieving the full objectives set
forth in the Permit. A public working group consisting of resource agency representatives,
non-governmental organizations, and interested members of the public worked together to
develop a reasonable range of practicable alternatives for restoration of the SDL. As
required by the Permit, SCE submitted a Preliminary Restoration Plan for restoration of SDL
to the CCC in September 1997. Following CCC approval of the Preliminary Restoration Plan
in November 1997, the wetland restoration project entered the environmental review process
pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA).
The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority (JPA) took the role of state lead agency
under CEQA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) took the role of federal lead
agency under NEPA. The JPA incorporated the SCE wetland restoration project into their
overall Open Space Park Project (Park Project) for the San Dieguito River Valley area. A
joint environmental impact report/environmental impact statement (EIR/S) was prepared for
the entire San Dieguito Wetlands Restoration (Restoration Project) component of the Park
Project, which includes the following elements: (1) creation or substantial restoration of 150
acres of tidal wetlands to fulfill SCE's SONGS Permit requirement, (2) restoration of
The San Dieguito River Valley (SDRV), consisting of the San Pasqual Valley and Lake Hodges, is one of the most significant natural open spaces in San Diego County. This area supports a major recreational amenity, the San Dieguito River Park (SDRP), as well as habi-tat for several species covered and permitted by the Multiple Species Conservation Pro-gram (MSCP). The 2007 Witch Fire burned a substantial portion of the SDRV, including more than 60% of the SDRP. The extremely high natural resource and recreational values in this area emphasize the need and urgency for fire recovery efforts.