Vegetation removal ‘enhancing’ the ecosystem

Vegetation removal ‘enhancing’ the ecosystem
The palm grove at the Lake Calavera Preserve has been removed and the project is near completion, according to Carlsbad officials. Photo by Steve Puterski

CARLSBAD — The palm grove and non-native species of vegetation are gone from the Lake Calavera Preserve, according to city officials.

Craddock Stropes, management analyst, said the city’s efforts are near completion with the project. She said March 17 is the final of the 120-day planting and observing period for native species brought back to the preserve.

“We are pretty much finished now,” Stropes said. “They are now in the sort of maintenance period.”

The city obtained a permit to clear vegetation from the Lake Calavera Dam, which also included mitigation measures allowing for the clearing of non-native trees and vegetation.

Native species such as western sycamore, western cottonwood, coast live oak, California blackberry, red willow and Mexican elderberry were planted.

Mexican fig palms and Brazilian peppertrees were injected with herbicide and an estimated 120 trees and other vegetation were removed.

In addition, a new unisex restroom near the dam has been completed and is open for visitors.

“It is a big difference,” Stropes said. “It’s quite an enhancement to the preserve.”

The project hit a roadblock in June 2016 when residents questioned the city council for not giving notification to residents around the preserve and the work. As a result of the backlash, the city organized a workshop in July 2016.

Crews began work in August and now officials are keeping a close eye on the landscape to make sure no non-native vegetation returns.

Winter storms, meanwhile, have not slowed the project and in fact, Stropes said, have all but eliminated the use for a temporary irrigation system constructed to water the new plants.

Also, the lake level rose to within one inch of the spillway after last week’s storm, but has now receded about six to seven inches due to evaporation, she added.

“The rain has definitely filled the lake,” Stopes explained. “It’s been a good enhancement to the ecosystem.

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