Protect Miramar Vernal Pool Preserve

Mission possible!


Photo credit: Alexander Kunz 

The restoration of the Miramar Vernal Pools site stands as a cornerstone project for our chapter, showcasing what unified effort and relentless dedication can achieve.


What are Vernal Pools?

Vernal pools are unique land-forms that trap rainfall in small shallow pools. They occur all over the world, but are generally not common. In San Diego County, they are restricted to flat, open terrain where particular soil-types prevent percolation, allowing the pools to gradually dry out over several weeks. This seasonal cycle of wet and dry conditions supports a diverse array of plant and animal species, many of which are uniquely adapted to this habitat and found nowhere else.

Unfortunately, more than 98 percent of the vernal pools once present in San Diego County have been lost due to urban development.

Our Miramar Vernal Pool Preserve harbors some of the rarest and most endangered species in the United States, including San Diego Mesa Mint, San Diego Fairy Shrimp, San Diego Button-Celery, Orcutt’s Brodiaea, Campbell’s Liverwort, and San Diego Golden Star.

Photo credit: Alexander Kunz

The Big Cleanup - October 2022

The Miramar Vernal Pool Preserve was set aside in 2000 and later identified as a property needing to be protected. The site was fenced, but in 2017, the fence was breached and the first homeless encampment was established. Covid-19 greatly increased the size of the encampment, with many moving onto the property along with their belongings. By 2021, a massive amount of trash and debris had accumulated, with people living in the pool basins, digging trenches to drain the biggest pools, and otherwise disturbing the native vegetation.

On October 29, 2022, around 60 volunteers from our CNPS San Diego chapter entered the site equipped with gloves, trash bags, grit, and determination. As we approached the worst messes, we all felt overwhelmed and began to doubt whether we could ever get the place clean. But by the end of that first day, triumph replaced doubt. The job was not done, but we had accomplished so much that there was now no doubt we would get the place clean. Sure enough, after two more sessions, the place was cleaner than we could have ever expected. We had removed 160 cubic yards of trash, more than 16 tons!

The Big Bloom - Spring 2023

On a cool afternoon in February this year, I stood at the largest pool in the Miramar Vernal Pool Preserve enjoying the rare plants that were growing up through the water. These plants covered the pool from one end to the other. As I watched, I wondered how these plants could be growing so beautifully after years covered by carpets, mattresses, tents, and debris. Yet there they were, growing vigorously.

Lee Gordon

Phase II


In Phase II of the Miramar Vernal Pools restoration project, we are planning to remove twelve eucalyptus trees, which currently pose a threat to the growth of rare plants and animals in the vernal pools. The eucalyptus trees will be replaced by Toyons and the vernal pools will be returned to their original glory!

Support Phase II

The remarkable success story lies in the rapid and robust recovery of the preserve following years of abuse. It took the combined effort of many – the owners; two visionaries from our CNPS chapter, Lee Gordon and Vincent Scheidt; and numerous determined volunteers—alongside Nature itself, showcasing its unbelievable resilience!

Justin Daniel, President CNPS-SD

Photo credit: Alexander Kunz