Lagoon lovers, it's time to get caught up. I know it's been awhile, but the game board has been changing, and my understanding has been growing, so I've waited until some of the dust had settled before I settled into telling the tale of restoration or not. To be perfectly honest I did draft a piece last month and we reviewed it at the foundation meeting with mixed enthusiasm. It seems my reference to the State and Federal agencies as disingenuous met with consternation from some and a wink and a nod from others. Consequently, I didn't post the article out of deference to the efforts to sway these entities into a reasonable bigger picture outlook than the narrow biological window from which they view our world. You see, when you hang out with the principles that have been involved in protecting and preserving The Buena Vista for more than 30 years, you really appreciate the true history of how and why we have a large beautiful series of connected Lagoons called the Buena Vista, (beautiful view for you non- Spanish speaking folks).
Now, just imagine for a moment, this expansively beautiful body of water that people stop to admire at sunset, and birds flock to in profusion being reduced to an intermittent trickling stream that costs an insane amount of money to produce at tax payers expense in order to create the "preferred ideal biological conditions" around the last Ice Age. You see because of the various elevations of the Lagoon and the Ocean, the Buena Vista has never been a Salt water Lagoon or at least not in this millennia. Any salt water intrusion would have resulted in random storm surge which by any reasonable standard would not qualify the Buena Vista as a salt water alternative. It wasn't until a random comment made in a meeting in 1983 that the concept of Salt Water regime was even considered. It was however, this off handed comment that caught the fancy of Fish and Game, an agency devoid of any engineering or historical input, and completely derailed the plan for restoration that had been in the planning for years.
So, the lines were drawn and the process ensued to indoctrinate the public as to the desirability and feasibility of making a sow's ear out of a silk purse. In the beginning there were public meetings and press releases, slide presentations, and great speeches. Over time as the studies solidified the presentations showed less and less water and more and more pressure on the part of Govt. agencies to accept the Salt Water Alternative as the only acceptable choice. This is when I joined the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation and my real education began. Here's the rub, the Feds and the State, never intended for there to be any other alternative. In meetings that you are never invited to, the truth will out and the my way or the Highway approach of Government overreach raises it's ugly head.
This is why I applauded the back bone of the property owners at the mouth of the Lagoon. If it wasn't for The Beach, and St. Malo's H.O.A.'s the agencies would have steam rollered their position over all of us. I know this sounds like I have a fixed function position on the restoration propositions, but if the truth would out, I could have been sold on the Salt water approach because it would have mitigated the mosquito problem and created a no grow zone for the tullies, both of which were desirable by products. Unfortunately, in order to achieve this from an engineering reality, a consciousness level foreign to Fish and Game, you would have to destroy the lagoon in favor of a meandering trickle. No longer would there be an expansive lagoon for school kids and nature lovers to observe the vast variety and interaction of many and larger species. Even Audubon, a great conservation institution would find the spectacle from their head quarters on the lagoon greatly diminished compared to the alternative of keeping a full body of water without the tullies.
It's always darkest before the dawn. Many of our Foundation meetings were clouded with the oppressive reality that Fish and Game and Fish and Wildlife were the stakes holders and unyielding. So, when Fish & Game walked away from the restoration process, the Directors of The Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation collectively strange into action by reaching out to all influential movers and shakers in local city governments and beyond. In so doing Assemblyman Martin Garrick, and local Coastal Commission representative, Ester Sanchez, were encouraged to write letters to and lobby higher ups in the California resource agency food chain in Sacramento. Finally, there came a ray of hope from local city councils. Oceanside and Carlsbad banned together, chipped in some money for the EIR and recommended that SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments), in conjunction with Cal Trans be the lead agency in putting together and finally completing the EIR. This is the only chance for the Lagoon to get a fair shot at survival, at least survival in some recognizable similarity to the majestic attraction it has been historically.