San Dieguito Lagoon Ecological Reserve


The San Dieguito Lagoon Ecological Reserve is a 110-acre property which provides critical migrating waterfowl habitat and nesting sites for sensitive bird species, contributes to coastal fisheries replenishment by providing nursery habitat for young fish, and generally protects a tremendous diversity of plant and animal species. Habitats includes southern California coastal sage scrub, riparian and coastal wetland communities. The lagoon is also designated as a State Marine Conservation Area.

For more information, call the South Coast Region San Diego office at (858) 467-4201.

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing Hiking Trails

This ecological reserve is adjacent to or shares marine habitat with a Marine Protected Area (MPA). For the public use regulations for MPAs, see Section 632, Title 14, CCR.

Activities: wildlife viewing, hiking

NOTE: Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations pertaining to the use of Department lands.

Refer to the Public Uses on State and Federal Lands section of the Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations.

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You may not operate a drone on CDFW Lands without a Special Use Permit.

Area History

During the 1920s the U.S. Navy established the San Dieguito Airfield as an emergency landing field. In 1938 the Del Mar Airfield was developed as a municipal airport. The purpose of the airfield was to increase the ease of patrons attending the Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack. In 1941 the Navy purchased 80 acres at the site to improve the airfield but the project was never completed. In 1943 the airfield was used as a base for blimps to conduct anti-submarine patrols along the west coast. In 1947 the Navy quitclaimed the property to the County of San Diego which resulted in the facility being used as a civil airfield once again. In 1959 the Del Mar airport was closed, and the property was transferred to the State as part of the right-of-way for Interstate 5. The property was designated as an ecological reserve by the Fish and Game Commission in 1988. The Lagoon underwent restoration that started in 2006 and was completed in 2011.

Map of San Dieguito Lagoon ER location - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


South Coast Region (Region 5)

City of Del Mar, San Diego County

Directions: I-5 to Via De La Valle exit and turn west. Turn south on Jimmy Durante Blvd. Turn east on San Dieguito Drive. There is public parking at the Grand Avenue bridge as well as along San Dieguito Drive.

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