San Diego Management & Monitoring Program

Vegetation Community
North County Cactus Nursery and Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration (2015-2018)

October 1, 2015 - August 31, 2018 completed

Project description

The primary goal of this three-year project was to support the restoration and recovery of cactus wren (CACW) populations in the San Pasqual Valley/Lake Hodges region and other locations identified in coordination with the South San Diego County Coastal Cactus Wren Conservation Implementation Plan. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research sought to aid the recovery of this species through 1) the creation of additional cactus wren habitat through large scale prickly pear propagation and 2) the removal of invasive plant species from new and existing cactus wren habitat. We established a cactus nursery that supplied 8056 locally sourced cacti to restoration projects throughout the region from 2015-2018. We also conducted extensive removal of invasive species at two major centers of cactus wren habitat: Lake Hodges and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Biodiversity Reserve. This project provided wide ranging benefits to coastal cactus wren conservation not only by providing large-scale habitat restoration and management across the region, but also by documenting experiences and lessons learned during the development of the cactus nursery which can serve as a guide for the future establishment of other large scale cactus nurseries. We document herein the data collected from our propagation, restoration, invasive species removal efforts, and a propagation protocol which describes the methods we used for cactus propagation and nursery establishment.

Project groups


Project Group: Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan

Project protocol

Name: Coast Prickly Pear (Opuntia littoralis) Propagation Protocol for Large Scale Cactus Restoration

Description: This protocol describes how to grow rooted cactus from cactus pads up to about 0.5 m in height. The document is the output of a submission to the Native Plant Network's Propagation Protocol Database operated by the US Forest Service.

Project Data - Online Map

Project Data - Files

Project focus

Project type: Habitat restoration

Target species: Cactus Wren, coastal pricklypear

Target vegetation: coastal sage scrub

Data steward: Katherine Heineman

Investigator: Joyce Maschinski

Main implementing entity: San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research

Partner: Center for Natural Lands Management; City of San Diego, Public Utilities Department Watershed and Resource Protection Team; San Dieguito River Park

Point of contact: Joyce Maschinski

SDMMP lead: Kris Preston

Study lead: Joyce Maschinski

Strategic elements

MSP Objectives and actions:CAMBRU-6