Carlsbad area residents will see some increased activity at Batiquitos Lagoon this fall. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will be commencing a maintenance dredging operation at the Ecological Reserve beginning in November.
The 542 acres of vast eelgrass beds, mudflats and both salt and freshwater marsh habitats support the many fish and avian species that inhabit the area. The land is jointly owned by DFG and the State Lands Commission and both have the responsibility for conservation and preservation of the resources in the lagoon. The State Lands Commission is partnering with DFG to provide contracting assistance to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.
The project will remove 118,000 cubic yards of beach-quality sand that has been drawn in from the ocean at the mouth, accumulating to form a shoal in the central basin (between I-5 and the railroad tracks) that hinders the flow of incoming and outgoing tides. During this fall’s operation, the dredged sand from within the central basin will be pumped onto South Ponto Beach to the south of the lagoon inlet, where it will provide habitat for grunion and shorebirds and enhance the recreational experience for beachgoers.
Regular dredging and maintenance is needed in the basin to maintain the valuable and pristine habitat for the species that live there. This area has been dredged several times since 1995. The Port of Los Angeles provided maintenance funding to DFG to manage and protect the habitat.
DFG will address erosion concerns in the western basin during a later phase of the project. Two nesting areas for California least terns (Sternula antillarum browni) and western snowy plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) were created in the western basin during the original restoration project. Unprotected edges of these sites have experienced ongoing erosion, resulting in loss of nesting habitat and steep, unstable slopes. Bulldozers will be used to push sand from the basin to reestablish these areas and improve shoreline habitat while enhancing open water for plover and tern foraging.