More than 240 acres of marshland at Penasquitos Lagoon will be preserved as state parkland following Friday's ceremony proclaiming the $2.25-million area a natural preserve.
The land, one of 26 coastal wetlands statewide, is inhabited by a variety of species, including the threatened Belding's Savannah sparrow, said Joy Zedler, a San Diego State University biology professor. Zedler spoke at the ceremony along with City Councilwoman Abbe Wolfsheimer and Sen. Bill Craven (R-Oceanside).
"The endangered bird is dependent on pickle weed vegetation that dominates the marsh," Zedler said. "The land supports a large variety of plant and animal species."
The area, called the Los Penasquitos Marsh Natural Preserve, is now considered part of Los Penasquitos Lagoon, which covers 630 acres west of Interstate 5 near Carmel Valley Road. Zedler said the land has been an important educational site for college field trips and thesis projects.
SDG&E; purchased the land in 1966 for a possible nuclear power plant site. The company sold the land to the state in December after confronting economic problems and "a change in the social attitude toward nuclear power plants," company officials said.