In San Diego’s El Monte Valley, EHL has initiated an innovative effort to restore hundreds of acres partially graded for two golf courses to native habitat.

The site, owned by the Helix Water District, lies along the San Diego River near Lakeside. Historically a wide floodplain, the El Capitan dam and other development have taken a heavy toll. With golf course profits more marginal than in the past, EHL’s proposal to purchase the golf course lease and restore the land has recently been agreed to by the golf course partnership and the water district. The plan calls for over 2 miles of sycamore-oak woodland, bordered by coastal sage scrub and compatible hiking and equestrian trails. Eventually the area will become part of the San Diego River Park.

By removing a small fraction of the sand that has accumulated due to the dam, the water table can be brought near enough to the surface to support the riparian habitat. This process will be aided by the water district’s plan for groundwater recharge, using reclaimed water. Serendipitously, the sand removal will generate the funds necessary to buy out the golf course lease and pay for the restoration.
On September 20, 2005, with strong support from the local community, the water district board authorized its staff to move forward on EHL’s solution. One water district official called it a “ true legacy project.”