Workers have been busy cutting down trees and clearing brush from a narrow zone between the Sweetwater River and Jamacha Road in Rancho San Diego. They began near the intersection of Jamacha and Cuyamaca College Drive East a couple of weeks ago. By Friday, March 6, they had reached the corner of Jamacha Road and Willow Glen Drive, behind North Island Credit Union and the new Savannah Grill restaurant.
According to a worker on the scene who declined to be identified, only nonnative trees (giant reed, tamarisk, and palm) are being removed. The vegetation removal is part of a project by the National Wildlife Refuge to improve and expand habitat for the least Bell’s vireo, a bird listed as endangered by both the state and federal government since the 1980s. Removal of exotic vegetation is considered beneficial for the bird, which nests just a little over three feet off the ground.
Three years ago, to minimize disturbance to the nesting birds while the road was being widened, a 12-foot-high wall of plywood was built along this same stretch of road.
Isn’t all the current noise from the chainsaws and heavy equipment disturbing the birds? The answer is the same as it was when a similar question was raised three years ago during the construction of the “Great Wall of Jamacha.” The birds are not even in town right now; they won’t arrive until the nesting season, which officially starts March 15. The work is scheduled to be finished before that date.