News & DepartmentsPhotos

Buena Vista Lagoon, One of the Last Freshwater Lagoons in California

The Buena Vista Lagoon sits between Oceanside and Carlsbad and is the state’s first ecological reserve.

The lagoon stretches over 206 acres of habitat and is home to several bird species and small mammals who have made their homes in the marsh.

The reserve was created in 1968 and is considered the first reserve in the state, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website. On April 26, 1968, the Fish and Game Commission authorized the CDFW to lease 80 acres of land and water owned by The Nature Conservancy. On Nov. 13 of that year, the lagoon became the state’s first ecological reserve.

The lagoon was formed when it took in runoff from hills to the east and fed water to the Pacific. In the 1940s, a weir was added at the mouth of the lagoon, essentially changing the lagoon so it was freshwater only. In the 70s, a stronger block was placed at the lagoon’s mouth, emphasizing the transformation into a lake rather than a body of water with a connection to the ocean.

At the time this photo was taken in 1975, the Fish and Game Commission had classified the last 110 acres of the lagoon as an ecological reserve, according to a report published by the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation.

In 1982, the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation was formed to conserve and restore the lagoon. In 1983, the Buena Vista Audubon Society signed a lease with the City of Oceanside to create a nature center for public use; the center was opened in 1988.

In 2021 the Wildlife Conservation Board awarded $3 million to the San Diego Association of Governments for the restoration of the Buena Vista Lagoon. The project was approved in 2020 and was set to remove the low dam at the lagoon’s outlet to create a channel for the ocean water to flow in and out, allowing the lagoon to return to a saltwater wetland.

Most recently, the CDFW granted $1 million for the second phase of the lagoon enhancement project in June 2022.

Share This:


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *