Our Conservation Projects

Tidal Circulation

Together, we reconnect the San Elijo Lagoon with the Pacific Ocean.

New, oxygen-rich water from the ocean means that our wildlife – and ecosystem – can survive. Thanks to a long-term financial endowment, we can facilitate tidal circulation. Plus, our Reviving Your Wetlands – San Elijo Lagoon Restoration project is also improving this critical process. Naturally, the lagoon used to reconnect to the ocean regularly. Due to modern infrastructure’s effects on the lagoon, we need to recreate that opening/closing cycle for the ecosystem’s health.

In San Diego, natural ecosystems like these need protection – and action. Let’s maintain our lagoon with a healthy ocean connection!

“When our organization was founded over 30 years ago, its purpose was to open the lagoon to the ocean. This imperative task is our foundation, and as we grow, this will always remain a central focus.”

— Doug Gibson, Executive director | Principal Scientist

What We Do

  • Open the inlet, which takes 10 days on average, and we complete this annually.
  • Remove built-up sand under the Highway 101 bridge and within the San Elijo Lagoon inlet channel, using earth-moving construction equipment.
  • Enact an emergency opening when the inlet closes and dissolved oxygen drops to critical levels needed for wildlife survival.
Man and woman stand at trailside overlooking the San Elijo Lagoon

Why We Do It

  • To ensure nearly year-round tidal circulation within the San Elijo Lagoon, which means the wildlife gets healthy water to survive — and thrive — in.
  • Because long-term closures of the inlet would lead to fish kills due to lack of dissolved oxygen, harmful bacteria levels in the water, and suitable conditions for excessive mosquitos.

Key Initiatives

  • New I-5 Bridge Construction improves the lagoon’s tidal flow.
  • Mechanical Breaching to open up the inlet – removing sand buildup – is necessary each year.
  • Opening the Lagoon to the Ocean is why the Nature Collective (then known as the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy) was established in 1987.
  • Water Quality Monitoring provides real-time data on the health of the water.
  • Reducing Freshwater Mosquitos for environmental + public health.

Learn More

High Tide Clearing at San Elijo Lagoon Inlet
San Elijo Lagoon Inlet Opens
Flowing Tides + New Trail Beginnings

Get Involved at the Nature Collective

Join up with fellow nature-loving individuals . . . and help restore the natural balance of our unique saltwater wetlands.