May 2, 2013: The San Diego Association of Governments is the new lead agency for the environmental review process for the Buena Vista Lagoon Enhancement Project. Information about the project and public involvement opportunities can be found at: www.KeepSanDiegoMoving.com/BVLagoon

The Buena Vista Lagoon lies within the cities of Carlsbad and Oceanside in northern San Diego County, California. The Lagoon is California’s first Ecological Reserve and is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Game.It is one of the few remaining large tracts of coastal wetland habitat remaining in southern California.

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Historically a tidally influenced system, Buena Vista Lagoon has been impacted over time by increased sedimentation from the surrounding watershed and construction of a concrete weir across the ocean entrance in the 1940s that controls the water level. The presence of the weir at the mouth of the lagoon, combined with increasing sediment and nutrient loading has reduced the depth and circulation of the lagoon, has accelerated the growth of cattail, bulrush, and algae, and lead to a decline of biodiversity and increased vector (e.g., mosquito) problems.Restoration is a high priority because, given current rates of sedimentation, it is predicted that the lagoon will fill in and become a wet meadow in less than 50 years. Restoration of Buena Vista Lagoon is a high priority (Tier One) project on the work program of the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project.

Numerous agencies and organizations have been working toward restoring the lagoon, including, but not limited to, the California Coastal Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, NOAA, the cities of Carlsbad and Oceanside, Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation , and the Carlsbad Watershed Network (visit the “Buena Vista Lagoon Restoration Working Group” page).  The first phase of restoration planning, consisting of several studies assessing the feasibility of restoring function and habitat values by modifying the lagoon’s hydrology, has been completed (visit the “History” and “Downloads” pages for more information).

“Phase II” restoration planning is currently underway and consists of the preparation of preliminary engineering and environmental documents by evaluating restoration alternatives for the lagoon. This phase is expected to be completed by 2011, and will be followed by, depending on funding availability, final engineering design, permitting, and construction (“Phase III”).

As restoration planning progresses, the Buena Vista Lagoon Working Group will post notices of public workshops and meetings on the “Updates” page of this Web site, as well as provide links and downloads to relevant documents.


Although it is currently in a degraded state, Buena Vista Lagoon continues to be an ecological and aesthetic jewel in the midst of a rapidly growing urban area (visit the “Gallery” and “Photos” pages). The lagoon is designated a Core Habitat Area (Core 1) in the City of Carlsbad’s Habitat Management Plan; and as a preserve area in the City of Oceanside’s Draft Subarea Plan.  Both of these plans have been developed under the San Diego County Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP) effort.

A major function of the lagoon is to provide habitat for breeding, roosting, and foraging for approximately 200 species of resident and migratory birds, including several endangered avian species such as the Light-Footed Clapper Rail, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, California Least Tern, and Brown Pelican.  The lagoon also provides birdwatching and recreational fishing opportunities for visitors and tourists alike.

The Buena Vista Audubon Society operates the Buena Vista Lagoon Nature Center at the lagoon, which annually attracts more than 6,000 bird watchers and other visitors interested in the lagoon’s biological resources, as well as the tranquility and visual treats afforded by numerous viewpoints and trails around the lagoon’s shore.

For more information about the Buena Vista Lagoon restoration program, restoration projects at other North San Diego County lagoons, and coastal resources and organizations, visit the “FAQ”, “Links”, and “Contacts” pages on this site.

Have a great day!

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