SANDAG to restore habitat in Carmel Valley area

View of recently acquired Deer Canyon East site from the completed Deer Canyon West site

View of recently acquired Deer Canyon East site from the completed Deer Canyon West site (Photo: SANDAG)

SAN DIEGO — Nearly 112 acres of habitat and old agricultural lands in the Carmel Valley area will be restored into wetlands starting in September, the San Diego Association of Governments announced Friday.

SANDAG acquired the land, referred to as Deer Canyon East, in June, shortly after state and federal agencies claimed successful rehabilitation of the adjacent 31-acre Deer Canyon West site.

Deer Canyon East is the last section needed to complete the city of San Diego’s Del Mar Mesa Preserve. The project is part of SANDAG’s Environmental Mitigation Program, funded by the half-cent TransNet sales tax.

“We are very proud of the ongoing work being done by the TransNet EMP program,” SANDAG chair and Del Mar City Councilman Terry Sinnott said. “Not only does it offset the environmental impacts of building transportation projects, it also helps our region meet its environmental goals, preserve critical habitat in a smart and comprehensive way and protect threatened or endangered native species of wildlife and plants.”

Efforts will offset wetland impacts caused by construction of the Rose Creek Bikeway and a rail corridor bridge replacement project in Rose Canyon, according to SANDAG.

Mitigation efforts on the Deer Canyon West site included creating and restoring wetland and upland habitat for bird species like the federally endangered Least Bell’s vireo and federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher. Several pairs of gnatcatchers have been observed on-site since mitigation finished, according to SANDAG.

The 31-acre Deer Canyon West site, located south of State Route 56 and McGonigle Canyon, was acquired in 2011.