What is rewilding and why is it important? Rewilding helps nature restore damaged ecosystems by removing invasive nonnative grasses, bushes, and trees, and allowing native plants to reestablish the natural plant and animal communities of our area. Indeed, research shows that the most economically and expedient restoration strategy is to let ecosystems repair themself. Rewilding will result in healthy ecosystems with a greater diversity of native pollinators, plants, and animals. This will insure the survival of our three damaged ecosystems: the riparian zone along the banks of the San Dieguito River near the Public Works building; the James G. Scripps coastal bluffs north of Del Mar Dog Beach; and the pond south-west of Public Works.
Where do we start: Start by removing invasive nonnatives trees and shrubs such as Crown Daisy from all areas so native plants can colonize. Removing nonnative plants has the added benefit of reducing the risk of fire due to added fuel.
Riparian zone: Jumpstart rewilding by planting riparian trees such as Arroyo Willow and Goodding’s Black Willow. Arroyo Willow grows along the brackish shore of the San Dieguito River adjacent to Horse Park, and Goodding’s grows at San Elijo Lagoon wetlands. Both are a keystone species that will help rewild the ecosystem, but may be slow to colonize area. In addition, willows are the preferred nesting tree of the threatened Bell’s Vireo. Also, plant Coast Live Oak from seed in open areas.
Scripps Bluff: The endangered Southern Maritime Chaparral plant community of Del Mar is restricted to the fog belt of Southern California. Our region contains many rare and endangered plants including San Diego Sunflower, Del Mar Manzanita, White Coastal Ceanothus, and Fish Hook Cactus. Some years water from fog during winter and spring may be the main source of moisture for these plants, particularly young plants before they develop deep roots.
The pond near Public Works: Southern California’s North County Transit District (NCTD) owns the property. Continuing efforts by Wild Coast and the Green Consortium to get permission to restore the degraded pond (called the railroad wye) have failed.
Monitor all restored habitats yearly for the presence of invasive plants and resprouting of cut down plants. Remove or trim all invasives. It may be necessary to sow native plant seeds after the first fall rain of the year to promote the rehabilitation and survival of our plant communities.
All of the plants mentioned may be seen in the Wildlife Friendly Garden section of the San Dieguito Lagoon website.