Carlsbad begins tree removal at Lake Calavera

Carlsbad begins tree removal at Lake Calavera
The city of Carlsbad began removing more than 100 non-native trees and plant species this week at the Lake Calavera Preserve. Photo by Steve Puterski

CARLSBAD — Work commenced this week to remove more than 100 trees and invasive plant species at the Lake Calavera Preserve.

The ecological area is nestled on the border of Carlsbad and Oceanside and have been subject to concerns from residents about the application of herbicide and lack of notice from the city.

The city approved the project earlier this year, but delayed action after residents loudly called for a public meeting about the process.

Removal of the plants and trees is part of a permit the Carlsbad Municipal Water District obtained to clear an area near the Calavera Dam. Mitigation measures called for the removal of the trees and other plants.

The removal is expected to take about five weeks, followed by three weeks of work to put in native plants, including western sycamore, western cottonwood, coast live oak, California blackberry, red willow and Mexican elderberry. All work will be done under the direction of a professional biologist.

The city will spend approximately $600,000 for these improvements.

“Many people don’t realize that palm trees are not native to this area and can actually harm the local environment by pushing out native plants needed for the ecosystem to survive,” said Sherri Howard, associate engineer for the city.

During the July meeting, residents questioned city staff and biologists about the application of the herbicide, how an estimated 120 trees will be removed, wildlife protections and other factors. The herbicide is the controversial Roundup Custom, which contains glyphosate as the active ingredient.

The trees will be injected with herbicide and cut down with chainsaws. However, numerous trees will not be pulled out of the preserve after being cut down as doing so would cause too much damage to the landscape, Biologist Mike Trotta of LSA Associates said at the meeting.

All trees, though, will be cut into sections to be either removed or spread throughout the preserve.

The work will run from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

In mid-November, the city will begin construction of a single stall, unisex restroom on the north side of the Calavera Dam. The restroom project will include a drinking fountain, bike rack and the design will coordinate with an existing pump station nearby. The restroom should be open to the public in December.

“The restroom and drinking fountain will be a welcome addition to this well-used trail system,” said Kasia Trojanowska, park planner. “These are the two improvements most requested by the public.”

The preserve is part of the city’s Habitat Management Plan, which is designed to preserve and protect sensitive biological resources within the city while allowing for continued economic development.

The Calavera Dam provides flood control for the area by keeping the Lake Calavera Reservoir contained.

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