In the spring of 2008, eucalyptus seedlings popped up where coastal sage scrub had burned to charred nubs. The habitat destroyed had supported the rich bird diversity of the region, especially for the California Gnatcatcher, a well-known endangered Del Dios native. A merry band of dedicated local volunteers took action in 2010. We named ourselves the Del Dios Habitat Protection League. Through the years, many of our residents (you know who you are) have lopped, dragged and loaded dumpsters of eucalyptus. It’s satisfying to be out in the landscape, off trail, with a purpose. It’s quite the aerobic workout to boot!
What has been an all-volunteer effort has now been funded by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), a branch of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. The continuity with the San Dieguito River Park/ River Valley Conservancy habitat restoration work both below the dam and into the San Pasqual Valley make this project a great fit for the NRCS funding for creating habitat for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, another small endangered bird. Research suggests as we re-introduce willows, and other native trees, we will have both endangered gnatcatchers and flycatchers nesting here and feeding on the abundant gnats, flies and other insects that grace our lake.
Our goal is to remove eucalyptus and plant native trees and shrubs: Oaks, Sycamores, Willows, Mulefat, Toyon and Lemonade berry. We are balancing the removal of the non-native invasive eucalyptus with keeping nesting and perching sites for our native Raptors, and shade on our trails for hikers. There are 70 acres earmarked for eucalyptus removal, and 8 acres where we will be planting this spring. The long range plan is to see native trees growing along many water courses along the north shore of Lake Hodges.
Town Council is hosting an informational meeting about the project on September 10th 7PM. If you have specific questions or concerns please plan on coming to the meeting or please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.