It is not often that you find yourself surrounded by marshes, birds, fish, crabs and other wildlife in a place that was once covered with asphalt. But, the Del Mar project has set a new bar for wetlands restoration. With a financial infusion of $2.25 million and a great deal of dedication and imagination, a parking lot that stood near to the Del Mar Fairgrounds has been transformed into a habitat for wildlife. The Del Mar Wetland project created 1.67 acres of upland habitat and over 9.51 acres of coastal marsh land.

Happy Wildlife Arrived Ahead of Opening Day

A much-anticipated ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on July 12, 2017. Officials, sponsors, supporters, and constituents were not the only celebrants in attendance. Several species of birds and fish had already arrived ahead of the ribbon-cutting, enjoying their new nature wonderland. Egrets were spotted catching the small fish that had already taken up residence in the eel grass. Hundreds of crab were swarming along the shoreline. Various species of birds moved in as early as last year, notably pelicans, terns, osprey, herons, gnatcatchers, quail, cormorants, raptors, hawks and a number of other species, making the new wetlands a treasure trove for birders. A special site has been designed to encourage breeding and nesting for endangered species. No breeding pairs have arrived yet, but planners are patient. It was a parking lot, so it will take a little time before birds “get the message” about this new habitat.

The 71-mile long Coast to Crest trail will make its way through the Del Mar Wetland, offering hikers, bikers and horseback riders a unique opportunity to learn about and enjoy the wetlands. Plans are for Del Mar Wetland to be completely self-sustaining. For now, though, engineers have installed drainage and irrigation lines to maintain the proper balance of salinity in the tidal water.