Founded in 1983, the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that works directly with California State Parks and other key stakeholder groups to protect, restore, enhance and preserve Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, a State Marsh Natural Preserve.

Dedicated to the restoration of Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, its associated uplands and the preservation of land for scenic, historic, educational, recreational, agricultural, scenic and open space opportunities.

– Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Foundation’s Mission Statement.


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We pride ourselves in our commitment to adaptive management, as coastal lagoons represent one of the more complex and dynamic systems within the coastal zone. LPLF is also one the first lagoon foundations to have a certified enhancement plan, the 1985 Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Enhancement Plan and Program. Since that time, the Foundation has succeeded in helping restore, enhance, and preserve Los Peñasquitos Lagoon using adaptive management facilitated by a 34-year continuous monitoring program established by Joy Zedler and the Pacific Estuarine Research Lab. The monitoring program is currently conducted by wetland scientists from the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve that use data compiled at Los Peñasquitos Lagoon to help guide management decisions on both a localized and regional perspective. Some of our accomplishments include:

  • Successful coordination of stakeholder participation to help restore the Lagoon to a functioning system and support ongoing lagoon management since 1983.
  • Pioneers of “adaptive management” in coastal estuaries of Southern California.
  • Selected as a pilot watershed by State Resource Agency to help guide policy development and decisions for coastal watersheds.
  • 34 years of continuous monitoring of water quality and lagoon habitats.
  • 34 years of succesfuly managing the inlet to maintain tidal connectivity needed to preserve the Lagoon’s natural ecology.
  • Coordinated efforts with the City of San Diego to eliminate direct discharges of sewage into the Lagoon from 3 treatment plants operating within the watershed.
  • Ongoing coordination with scientists from the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve to provide both local and regional perspectives of coastal estuary management needs and priorities.
  • Awarded over $3 million by the State of California and the Federal Government to address non-point source pollution from the watershed
  • Awarded over $1.1 million by the County of San Diego to integrate lagoon restoration and management with vector management priorities for public health and safety.
  • Helped develop a third-party Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load that includes salt marsh restoration as a compliance target.
  • Updated the 1985 Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Enhancement Plan using a stakeholder process and technical analysis to develop a phased approach to large-scale restoration of the Lagoon’s native salt marsh and transitional habitats.
  • Awarded $183,320 in Prop 1 funds by the State Coastal Conservancy in 2016 to complete CEQA for the updated Lagoon Enhancement Plan and provide oversight in the Design and Feasibility Study for large-scale salt marsh restoration in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon (currently underway).

Current Projects