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New Habitat Purchased

The City of Carlsbad will purchase 13 acres of coastal sage scrub as a home for the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher as part of a broader program to conserve natural open space for sensitive plants and animals. 

Carlsbad is the first city in North County to have a Habitat Management Plan, which was adopted by state and federal wildlife agencies in 2004. The plan ensures sensitive biological resources are preserved when development occurs. 

Since there is not enough coastal sage scrub in Carlsbad to protect the gnatcatcher in the long term, part of the plan includes the city conserving 308 acres of coastal sage scrub within areas nearby. Under the approved plan, the city has until 2054 to meet this obligation. With the latest purchase, the city is meeting this goal 35 years ahead of schedule. 

Purchasing habitat outside of Carlsbad benefits gnatcatchers in Carlsbad because it establishes a safe movement corridor. 

The 13-acre property is located just outside city limits near Elfin Forest. On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the City Council approved the purchase of 13 acres of coastal sage scrub as conservation credits. A “conservation credit” is equal to one acre of land that is purchased for conservation, and includes an endowment for long-term management. 

The $1.1 million property was purchased with help from wildlife agencies with state and federal grants. The property will be managed by the Center for Natural Lands Management, saving Carlsbad taxpayers from those ongoing costs. Purchasing the property ahead of schedule also helps save money because the cost of land is only expected to increase in the long run. Including land purchased in Carlsbad, the Habitat Management Plan will conserve 6,400 acres of natural open space. 

The city had made two previous purchases in the Gnatcatcher Core Area as part of its conservation credit commitment.

  • 50.1 acres at a cost of $1,353,500 in January 2011
  • 30.1 acres at a cost of $868,300 in July 2011 

“We’ve been working on this a long time so it’s really exciting to acquire this last piece of the gnatcatcher habitat requirement,” said Rosanne Humphrey, City of Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan Coordinator. “We’re showing that we’re conserving enough land to preserve the species in the long-term.” 

The plan helps make sure any potential habitat loss from development is made up for. Developers pay a Habitat Management Plan mitigation fee to fund the cost of habitat purchases. 

More information

Rosanne Humphrey, Senior Program Manager, rosanne.humphrey@carlsbadca.gov, 760-602-4689

Habitat Management webpage



February 28, 2020