A new report shows that the City of Carlsbad was responsible for the creation of three new open space preserves for plants and animals last year under its environmental program called the Habitat Management Plan.
City staff recently released the Habitat Management Plan’s draft annual report for 2011-12; the city will hold a meeting to discuss the report at 1 p.m. on March 7 at the City of Carlsbad Faraday Center, 1635 Faraday Ave.
Established in 2004, the Habitat Management Plan calls for the city to set aside 6,478 acres of natural open space when all development has occurred, and so far the city has set aside 5,877 acres. The plan improves Carlsbad residents’ quality of life by protecting sensitive plant and animal species, while preserving natural open space.
The City of Carlsbad has a rich natural environment and is home to three lagoons, oak woodlands and other types of natural open space.
Carlsbad is the only city in Northern San Diego County with an approved Habitat Management Plan. City officials worked for almost 15 years to perfect the plan, and it was approved by state and federal environmental agencies nine years ago.
The annual report shows that the city purchased 7.5 acres of natural open space last year just outside the city limits for the threatened California gnatcatcher, a small bird that thrives in coastal sage scrub. This acquisition is the second of four installments that will set aside 30 new acres of natural open space in a gnatcatcher refuge in the Elfin Forest area.
The city has pledged to set aside 308 acres of natural open space for the gnatcatcher in the Elfin Forest preserve and has fulfilled 279 acres of that obligation. The City of Carlsbad has also preserved gnatcatcher habitat on city-owned preserve property within the city, such as at Lake Calavera and The Crossings at Carlsbad golf course.
The Habitat Management Plan serves a dual purpose of preserving land for environmentally sensitive species while providing clear guidelines to developers who wish to build in Carlsbad. As a result, the plan was responsible for creating three new privately owned preserves last year.
“Developers agree to set aside land for preservation, and endow the preserves to be managed and maintained in perpetuity,” said Mike Grim, a Carlsbad senior planner who oversees the Habitat Management Plan for the city.
In this way natural open space is preserved without taxpayers paying to buy the land, adds Grim.
The city-owned, natural open space preserves are managed by the Center for Natural Land Management, a nonprofit organization that specializes in overseeing natural open spaces. The Fallbrook-based center also manages more than 1,400 acres of privately owned preserves in Carlsbad. San Diego Habitat Conservancy also manages a portion of the privately owned preserves in Carlsbad. And two new preserve managers joined the Habitat Management Plan team last year — San Diego Urban Corps Habitat Services and Habitat Restorations Sciences.
The report also describes a new partnership established last year to help protect Batiquitos Lagoon. The Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation entered into a formal agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to manage the Batiquitos Ecological Reserve. The Fish and Wildlife Department has limited resources to fully manage the lagoon, and the nonprofit foundation has a strong interest in preserving the lagoon’s natural environment, so the agreement benefits the state, the foundation and the City of Carlsbad.
–City of Carlsbad