Volunteering at the San Elijo Lagoon: Thank You Julie and Joe McCormick!

This past Wednesday, Cooper and I volunteered at the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy in my hometown. Each Wednesday, a group of volunteers get together for what they call the “Lagoon Platoon”, working to remove invasive species and do restoration work in the lagoon.

While the Conservancy’s main focus is environmental restoration and stewardship, they’re well known in the area for being a great location for birding. 40% of North American bird species have been seen in the Lagoon, and they’ve been home to a number of endangered species. This past weekend, we visited their nature center with my parents and walked around looking for birds in the area. We were able to find quite a few different types of birds, including a Snowy Egret and a few different types of hummingbirds. We thought Julie, an avid birder, would be proud.

For the Lagoon Platoon, we joined a group of about ten others in removing invasive species just off the side of a main trail. They’ve been working on rehabilitating the area by planting native plants, and with our help those plants will hopefully have a better chance of surviving. Total, as a group, within two hours we removed a pile about 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

As we hiked out to the spot we’d be working at, we took a little detour with one of the project leads to go check on a turtle trap they had recently constructed. Apparently, about four weeks ago someone discovered a Texas Leatherback turtle in the lagoon, an invasive species. They believe someone put the turtle there. This specific turtle is about 2 feet long, and has the ability to hold fertilize eggs for seven years. They’re working to catch her before she lays eggs, causing potential harm to native life in the lagoon, and turn her over to the US Fish and Wildlife Services in San Diego. Learning about the Texas Leatherback was a great reminder of how fragile these ecosystems can be. Just the presence of one turtle could severely damage life that other species rely on within the Lagoon.

It’s taken us a bit of time to catch up on volunteering, and we’re still working away at it, but when the McCormick’s sent their generous donation we were able to purchase our reusable charger and all of our food from Campo (mile 0) to Idyllwild (mile 179). Now, whenever we’re in service areas with fully charged phones, we’ll give you a call. Thanks again, McCormicks, for your support!

We have a few more volunteer opportunities coming up this week in an effort to honor our last couple of donors who we haven’t had the chance to yet. Stay tuned for more!

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