Port of San Diego Plans to Restore and Enhance South San Diego Bay Wetlands

Port of San Diego approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and Poseidon Resource to coordinate on the restoration of South San Diego Bay Wetlands.

SAN DIEGO一 At their March 9 meeting the Port of San Diego approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the port, the San Diego Wildlife Refuge Complex, and Poseidon Resource to work together on the restoration of South San Diego Bay Wetlands.

The MOU allows the three parties to come together to share information and coordinate on various projects in south San Diego Bay.

“It is sharing information,” said Eileen Maher, director of environmental conservation for the Port of San Diego. “We will have some long-term monitoring after both projects, we will be sharing doing some joint monitoring along the tidal river to make sure there are no issues from the construction of the two projects. We want to make sure our two projects are beneficial for the wildlife that will enter it.”

The referenced projects are a joint project between the refuge and Poseidon for the Otay River Estuary Restoration Project and a proposed project from the Port of San Diego for the Wetland Mitigation Bank at Pond 20.

The project at Pond 20 is still awaiting approval and may be signed off on at the April 13 Board of Port Commissioners meeting.

In 1998 the Port of San Diego acquired 1,400 acres of San Diego Bay, the vast majority of the land was handed over to the State Lines Commission who entered a lease with the U.S. Fishing and Wildlife Service who then created the San Diego Bay Refuge.

The south part of Pond 20 was left out of the land transfer leaving it open for the Port of San Diego to attempt some type of development, according to Maher.

Through a series of public outreach efforts, the overwhelming majority of people wanted some type of open space in the wetland area, and it was determined that the best use of the space was for the restoration of the wetland and some type of commercial development in the surrounding parcels.

“An overwhelming majority of people said they wanted open space out there and wetland restoration and mitigation banking seemed to be a logical choice for something to do on the parcel,” said Maher.

The proposed project at Pond 20 will remove 550,00 cubic yards of material to create a wetlands habitat and bring in water through the main tidal channel, there will be three channels and it will create high, mid, and low marshes for the 75 acres. The project also proposes the creation of transitional habitat on top of the berms for high tides.

If the project is passed Maher said it would take an estimated 17 months. Maher said that while the three parties have separate goals for the projects the MOU is about being on the same page and making sure that the projects don’t conflict with one another and that the science is universal across the board.

The port, refuge, and Poseidon have been working cooperatively since 2010 and the MOU will carry that over as the next step to continue the relationship and coordination between the parties, according to the March 10 press release from the Port of San Diego.

“More globally the partnership between the refugee Poseidon as well as the port is really symbolic of the partnership and coordination that is needed as we start building back and redeveloping landscapes and seascapes,” said Jason Giffen, VP of planning, environment, and government relations for the Port of San Diego. “Especially in an area where we are talking about coastal wetlands and tide pool wetlands, it is symbolic of where we are going and where we are going to have to go if we are going to build back and restore a lot of these previously disturbed areas and this MOU is a catalyst for us to essentially continue restoring and enhancing San Diego bay and the coastal wetlands surrounding it.”


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