The Bridges Unit 7 property, acquired by the Endangered Habitats Conservancy in late 2011, helps complete a northern San Diego County core area for the California gnatcatcher.

The quality of the coastal sage scrub on this 96-acre property in the Elfin Forest area south of Carlsbad is immediately evident. It is the gently sloped – and nearly vanished – habitat that is most preferred by nesting gnatcatchers. Studies from Orange County and Camp Pendleton have shown that slope is an important factor for healthy populations of this endangered species, perhaps because flatter areas are most resilient during drought. These more productive habitats must be incorporated into the reserve design for the pending North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan. EHL marshaled scientific information in 2006 that contributed to a Planning Department recommendation for denial of a subdivision proposed for this site.

In a larger sense, the Bridges property helps realize commitments made many years ago in the Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan to offset local losses of coastal sage scrub through acquisitions in adjacent lands outside city boundaries. These compensatory commitments are now well on the way to successful realization.

The Elfin Forest Town Council played a vital, multi-year role in the protection of this land and was an excellent partner in working through the many hurdles that led to a conservation sale. Federal funds allocated through “Section 6” of the Endangered Species Act, as well as state funds from the Wildlife Conservation Board, provided the dollars for this important transaction.