Representative Mike Levin Announces Nature Collective Executive Director as Constituent of the Month

August 27, 2019
Press Release

Encinitas, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) announced that Doug Gibson, the Executive Director and Principal Scientist of Nature Collective, formerly known as San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, is his Constituent of the Month.

For years, lagoons and river valleys in North County San Diego were undervalued for their biodiversity and were polluted. Ocean outlets were blocked with invasive plants. Under Gibson’s leadership, the Nature Collective has raised more than $15 million dollars for habitat restoration projects and helped restore 40 miles of streams. More than three thousand students annually receive field trips in the Nature Collective’s nationally recognized school programs.

Earlier this year, Representative Levin launched a Constituent of the Month program to recognize outstanding North County San Diego and South Orange County Residents who have gone above and beyond to help their neighbors, give back to their community, and make the country stronger. Levin’s Constituent of the Month for June was former Vista Community Clinic Leader Barbara Mannino. He recognized Oceanside Women’s Resource Center Co-Founder Colleen O’Harra in July. To nominate a resident of the 49th District to be the Constituent of the Month, the nomination form can be found here.

See below for the statement that Rep. Levin submitted into the Congressional Record:

Madam Speaker, I am honored to name Doug Gibson, of Encinitas, as my Constituent of the Month for his 23 years of leadership as the Executive Director and Principal Scientist of Nature Collective, formerly known as San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy.

Residents of North County may remember that not so long ago, our beautiful lagoons and river valleys were not valued for their biodiversity and were threatened by development and pollution. Their outlets to the ocean were blocked and invasive plant species were growing out of control. Few fish or invertebrates could survive in the murky waters. Today, they have largely been restored to their natural states. They provide critical habitats for native plants and animals as well as wetlands for migrating birds.

It has taken years of stable leadership, hard work, and a shared commitment by professionals, local citizens, elected officials and supportive organizations to restore the ten beautiful wetlands in North County San Diego and South Orange County. They enhance our coastline—from the Los Penasquitos Lagoon in the south—to the San Juan Creek in the North.

Under Gibson’s leadership, the Nature Collective is guiding to completion the $120 million restoration of the 1,000-acre San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. Forty miles of streams have been restored. An annual breaching of the inlet has been established to keep the lagoon healthy. More than three thousand school children in the Nature Collective’s nationally recognized school program receive field trips throughout the Escondido watershed. Walkers and joggers can access seven miles of trails from Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Solana Beach, Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe, and new trail connections are coming soon.

Gibson’s contribution goes beyond the San Elijo Lagoon. For decades, he has collaborated on the planning of large restoration projects in seven north San Diego County watersheds, including Buena Vista Lagoon, San Dieguito Lagoon, San Elijo Lagoon, and Carlsbad Hydrologic Unit. He has chaired the San Diego County Wetlands Task Force and chaired five coastal counties for the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project.

There is no doubt that Gibson’s dedication to protecting our environment has improved the quality of life for families in Southern California and uplifted our communities. I am deeply grateful for his hard work, and I am proud to recognize him as the Constituent of the Month.

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