Much of the original native habitat along the beachfront of Coronado and the Strand is coastal sage scrub, one of the most imperiled habitat types in the state. Coastal sage scrub has become highly fragmented due to development and planting of non-native vegetation, such as as invasive Hottentot fig ice plant and other ornamental species from Africa and Eurasia.
Over the last several years, the San Diego Audubon Society has been working alongside the Port of San Diego and the Silver Strand Beautification Project to restore coastal sage scrub habitat in Coronado. Hundreds of volunteers and community members have removed invasive plants and replaced them with natives such as the San Diego sunflower, buckwheat (a favorite of bees and other pollinators) and a variety of sweet-smelling sages. Their handiwork is most visible at Emory Cove along the Strand bike path, where roughly 1.5 acres of ice plant was replaced with a now thriving coastal sage scrub community. As the plants have recovered, native birds have returned, including white-crowned sparrows, American pipits, and numerous species of warbler.
In January 2019 ground was broken at another site, this time installing native plants in the Cays at the Grand Caribe Shoreline Park. Since March of last year, hundreds of coastal sage scrub plants have been planted, replacing thick mats of invasive grasses and other weeds with a thriving native ecosystem that can support birds, bees and other pollinators.
The next volunteer day in this ongoing project is Saturday, Jan. 11 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Grande Caribe Shoreline Park, 598 Grand Caribe Causeway, hosted by the San Diego Audubon Society. Other spring project workdays are Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, June 14. All tools are provided, as well as snacks, sunscreen, gloves and water. Interested groups or individual volunteers should RSVP at email@example.com for more information. Bring your binoculars for a chance to spy some wildlife.