Pictured is a path in Fairview Park that abuts the fence between the park and Parsons Field. This path was recently mowed of vegetation by city crews at the request of Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger. It was later widened and topped by a layer of decomposed granite, though who did that unpermitted work remains a mystery. (Courtesy CITY OF COSTA MESA, Daily Pilot / September 4, 2013)

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An ecologically sensitive vernal pool at Fairview Park was "modified" by some decomposed granite placed over a portion of it, according to a city-commissioned environmental study.

LSA Associates' six-page report, dated Tuesday, gave recommendations for repairing the damage to Vernal Pool 6, a small portion of which was affected by the decomposed granite (DG) placed onto two paths that converge in Fairview Park's southeastern edge and go over a small segment of the pool.

The pool, which is between 0.02 and 0.04 acres, is one of several temporary wetlands within Fairview Park. The federally protected habitats host the endangered San Diego fairy shrimp, among other species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — which, based on Fairview Park's master plan, in 2007 bestowed upon Costa Mesa the authority to protect the fairy shrimp — is reviewing LSA's report.

It may take two weeks before the federal agency sends back its recommendations.

Those recommendations will then be reviewed by the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, said Ernesto Munoz, Costa Mesa's public services director.

The proposed mitigation measures are:

•Leaving Vernal Pool 6 as is, which would allow water to reach the pool via the "permeable" DG;

•Taking out the portion of DG that affected the pool and then restoring that affected portion;

•Leaving the DG intact and recreating the affected portion elsewhere;

•Relocating the pool at least 20 feet away from the school district's fences.

Each measure includes the installation of two-strand cable railings around the pool, though if it were relocated, the railing would be a minimum of 10 feet beyond the pool's boundaries.

Most of the recommendations may be satisfactory to Fish and Wildlife officials, the report said. Other than the DG, the pool "showed no evidence of other disturbances," according to the report.

LSA did not recommend the option of leaving Vernal Pool 6 as is, however.

"Vernal pool-dependent plans and wildlife cannot use the areas affected by the placement of the DG trail," according to the report. "In addition, these impacts to the vernal pool will require consultation with the [Fish and Wildlife Service] to determine the correct course of action, which may involve restoration and/or mitigation."

Vernal Pool 5, which is a few feet away from No. 6, was not encroached upon by the DG path, according to the report, but the path did go over a portion of its watershed. The report did recommend some fencing around the pool's perimeter.

Vernal Pool 7, just south of the Harbor Soaring Society's runway, "is in a disturbed area of bare ground," according to the report, which otherwise did not give any mitigation recommendations for that pool. The flat area around Vernal Pool 7 is commonly used as parking during Fairview Park events, such as the summer concert series.

LSA's report used GPS technology to map the vernal pools.


Brush was 'mowed'