The Buena Vista Watershed extends approximately 10.6 miles inland from the coast, totaling 14,437 acres and draining 21 square miles. The Watershed begins on the western slopes of the San Marcos Mountains, where surface runoff collects to form Buena Vista Creek. The creek weaves its way west to the Pacific Ocean, forming a lagoon at its mouth.
In the City of Oceanside, Buena Vista Creek parallels Highway 78, with the Lagoon located south of Highway 78 and west of Jefferson Street. Large sections of Buena Vista Creek have been concrete-channelized to reduce the chance of flooding private property.
Approximately 80 percent of the Watershed is developed, primarily with commercial and residential land uses. Some agricultural activities still exist in the watershed. All of these land uses are potential sources of pollutants. Buena Vista Lagoon has been found to have high levels of bacteria, sediment and nutrients.
The Watershed supports several native vegetation communities such as chaparral and sage scrub. Invasive plant species, such as Arundo donax, have presented a problem in the Buena Vista Watershed as they smother native plants and reduce habitat areas needed to support existing wildlife communities. The watershed provides refuge for a wide array of wildlife and endangered species, such as the California Gnatcatcher, Least Bell’s Vireo, Orange-throated Whiptail and the Yellow-breasted Chat.
A weir at the mouth of the lagoon excludes tidal influence, making Buena Vista Lagoon the only freshwater lagoon in Southern California. Numerous migratory waterfowl and shorebirds can be seen and there is good fishing (with a license) from shoreline access points.
Recreational Activities: Fishing, bird watching
Public Access: Access to Buena Vista Creek is limited. The Lagoon can be accessed via the Buena Vista Audubon Society facility off of Coast Highway. It can also be accessed via Lagoon View Drive off of Jefferson Street just south of Interstate 5.