After fifteen years of planning and two years of waiting for multiple government agencies to issue dozens of permits, construction was finally scheduled to start on the San Dieguito Lagoon Wetland Restoration Project. As mitigation/compensation for the loss of fish eggs and larvae attributed to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station 33 miles north, Southern California Edison took on the 86 million dollar project. Completion of 440 acres of wetland restoration would eventually make the lagoon into a fish hatchery, refuge for migratory waterfowl, and a place of recreation for hikers, bicyclists, and bird watchers. After many years of this area being used for multiple other things besides nature conservation – including agricultural fields and a landing strip – it was long overdue for the mouth of the San Dieguito River to get its life back.
But the San Dieguito Lagoon Restoration Project wasn’t the only major project that was scheduled to start in 2006! In Del Dios Gorge, two miles of trail and a pedestrian bridge were scheduled to start being constructed in the fall of 2006. A $500,000 construction grant from the state of California provided partial funding for the bridge. And in this same year, the River Park had also been awarded an additional $2 million grant for what would eventually be the stress-ribbon pedestrian bridge over Lake Hodges by I-15. This grant, awarded by the San Diego Association of Governments, was in addition to $5 million in state, federal, and SANDAG funding for the bridge.
Other notable things that happened in this year include SDRP receiving a finalist nomination for a Regional Golden Watchdog Award from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association for leveraging $5 million of local taxpayer funds to obtain over $50 million in federal and state grants, a staging area being established at east end of Crosby Estate for Santa Fe Valley Trail and Del Dios Gorge Trail, and being awarded a Certificate of Outstanding Merit for producing the video, Voices of San Pasqual, by the San Diego Archeological Center at the 2006 Archaeology Film Festival.