From natural canyonlands to landfill - and back again

Restoration activities at Miramar prove there is life after landfill.

provided by the City of San Diego Department of Environmental Services

iramar Landfill's closed areas will soon look a lot like they did before Miramar became the city's only trash disposal site: natural open space. A large-scale revegetation project is underway on 150 acres of the Landfill's closed areas using high quality compost and native plant species from the Landfill's new nursery. Without this effort, the closed areas would be left with hills forever stripped and barren, covered with "dead" infertile soil.

The revegetation starts with creating fertile soil. Environmental Services staff are able to achieve two environmental benefits at once by diverting green waste from landfill burial and recycling it in a highly effective composting operation. The end result is a rich soil that works as a slow-release fertilizer and helps to control erosion. The compost is utilized in conjunction with a newly completed 2,500 square foot nursery, currently housing nearly 18,000 native plants.

Compost is created by adding moisture and regularly mixing - or aerating - green waste as it decomposes. This decomposition generates high temperatures (130 degrees or more) that kills weed seeds and disease organisms which are often present in green waste. This pilot project at the Miramar Landfill is creating a high quality end product that is producing excellent results in the landfill's new native plant nursery.

Dept. of Environmental Services staff in the new 2,500 square foot nursery work with native plants destined for revegatation of 150 acres at the Miramar Landfill.


The nursery, along with a 3,200 square foot shade house under construction, is used to grow seedlings and cuttings of native plant species for outplanting. The greenhouse, built by Environmental Services staff, has automated water misting and a thermostat linked to ventilation controls to ensure proper temperatures inside. Native plants cultivated include California Sagebrush, Deerweed, Laurel Sumac, and Black Sage.

Environmental Services Department biologists will be spreading the compost and planting the seedlings beginning this month with the help of volunteers from local schools, environmental organizations and probation crews. The plants will be randomly distributed and will fill in over time to match surrounding natural areas.

Miramar Landfill covers 1,430 acres, portions of which will continue to be used for trash disposal until approximately the year 2011. The revegetation project, the final stage of responsible environmental landfill protection, will be utilized to restore the natural integrity of each area of the landfill as it is filled to capacity and closes.

Volunteers interested in participating in the revegetation effort can donate their time to help restore the native plant life at Miramar Landfill. Training on use of tools and planting protocol is included. Call Burton Ewert for more information at 636-4834.