Lake Calavera Preserve is the largest of 13 city owned, dedicated, and managed nature preserves in Carlsbad. It is home to four sensitive plant species and twelve sensitive animal species. In addition, there are 17 native vegetation communities on site, including Diegan coastal sage scrub, southern mixed chaparral, southern willow scrub, mulefat scrub and freshwater marsh.
Help protect natural lands
Nearby homeowners can inadvertently damage natural lands. Please follow the following guidelines for minimizing impact to the preserve:
- Don’t dump or store garbage, yard waste, wood, or any other debris into the preserve.
- Keep wildlife wild by not feeding the birds or leaving out pet food or water that attracts coyotes or other animals.
- Maintain landscaping:
- Stay within property lines and do not plant or water anything within the preserve.
- Keep yards free of invasive non‐native plant species, and don’t let landscaping plants "creep” into the preserve.
- Avoid overwatering landscapes, and don’t let any water run off into the preserve.
- Use only authorized trails and preserve entrances. Avoid creating trails from private yards into the preserve.
- Shield all nighttime lighting from shining directly into the preserve. Use low‐pressure sodium lighting.
The city’s Habitat Management Plan (HMP) helps protect the rich diversity of plants and wildlife in Carlsbad.
In January 2009, the city hired the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) to manage the preserve. CNLM is partnering with the city to install fencing, signs, and information kiosks; fix trails; close unauthorized trails; conduct plant and animal surveys; and remove invasive plant species.
Habitat restoration efforts will be taking place over the next several years. Restoration areas are identified by orange construction fencing. It can take up to five years for restored areas to become self-sustaining, so please help protect these areas.
Where have all the flowers gone?
The restoration site will change over time as new plants become established and replace others. This is the natural process of "habitat succession." Generally annual plants such as poppies, lupins and other flowers will become established first. Over time these are replaced by perennial shrubs such as California sagebrush, California buckwheat, and goldenbush, Annual plans come up in the spring, and then die off in the summer. But before they die, they spread their seeds so they can come up again the following year. As the perennials get larger they soon begin to take over the site. After about three to five years, the site will be dominated by perennial shrubs.
One of the most important components of habitat restoration is control of non-native invasive species, commonly known as weeds. Because the weeds were so dense prior to restoration activities, the soil is full of weed seeds. If the weeds are kept under control, the native plants can move in and take over, eventually eliminating the need for human intervention. Weeds are controlled by hand pulling, weed whacking and herbicide spraying. The herbicides used are the same or similar to Roundup. Once dry, they are safe for humans and pets. They leave no residues in the soil so there will be no runoff into the lake. Herbicides will be applied only by qualified, licensed herbicide applicators who have experience working in native habitat. They will be applied every two weeks throughout the growing season.