The Rancho La Costa Habitat Conservation Area (HCA) is an over 1,400 acre open space set
aside by the Real Estate Collateral Management Company (RECMC), Brookfield Homes, and
Scandia Development as mitigation for impacts to natural habitat as part of the Villages of La
Costa and University Commons developments. The limits of the Preserve have been approved
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the California Department of Fish and
Game (CDFG) with the primary goal of protecting habitat of the federally listed coastal
California gnatcatcher, as well as other listed species, and numerous sensitive plant and wildlife
species that are covered under the Fieldstone Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), the City of San
Marcos' MHCP Subarea Plan and Carlsbad's Habitat Management Plan (HMP).
B. Habitat Conservation Area History
The Rancho La Costa HCA resulted from over ten years of effort (Fieldstone HCP, University
Commons EIR) that evolved into a unique planning process for a project specific plan,
characterized by a consideration of range-wide conservation issues, open public participation and
negotiations with conservation interests and federal, state and local agencies. The biological
significance of the HCA comes from its location in relation to other important natural resource
lands located nearby. The eastern portions of the Preserve form the western tip of the largest,
contiguous stretch of coastal sage scrub and natural open space in northern San Diego County,
and is the primary link between the City of Carlsbad's and San Marcos' natural communities and
the larger regional ecosystem in the City of Escondido and San Diego County.
The Center for Natural Lands Management (Center) has been (or will be) deeded title to all
parcels that make up the HCA and has received endowments to manage these parcels in
perpetuity. Management commenced in January 2002 for about one half of the total property
with management of the additional acreage commencing between January 2002 and December
2004. La Costa Villages off-site mitigation properties have yet to be deeded to the Center (as of
Parcels that were deeded to the Center either fall in the City of Carlsbad or City of San Marcos
jurisdictions and therefore, subsequent sub-area plans. If the properties were for "off-site"
mitigation and were located in the County of San Diego, the conservation credit, and therefore
The Escondido Creek Preserve (Preserve) is an approximately 347-acre open space preserve located southwest of Harmony Grove, west of the City of Escondido, south of the City of San Marcos, and east of the City of Encinitas, within the Elfin Forest community of unincorporated San Diego County, California. The Preserve is owned by the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and is included in the proposed North County Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) preserve system. The DPR proposes to manage the Preserve in accordance with a Resource Management Plan (RMP), including Area-Specific Management Directives (ASMDs), currently being developed for the Preserve pursuant to the requirements of the MSCP.
The majority of the Preserve supports high quality native vegetation communities; however, invasive non-native plants are present in portions of the Preserve and are outcompeting native species and reducing the biological functions and values of these communities. In discrete locations, human disturbance has resulted in unvegetated areas, which are subject to erosion. Over half of the Preserve was most recently burned during the 1996 Harmony Fire, while the vast majority of the remaining portions of the Preserve burned most recently in 1943 (FRAP 2011). Much of the vegetation on site has recovered during the 15 year fire-free period; although in some areas, effects of the fire remain more visible than others.