The Coast News Group
Hikers on a previous tour of the Buena Vista Creek Ecological Reserve view the historic ranch land during a one-mile walking tour. Information on area history, topography and proposed development will be shared. Tours will be offered Jan. 12, Jan. 26 and Feb 9. Photo by Promise Yee
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Nature tours weigh the impact of planned development

CARLSBAD — Guided walking tours of the Buena Vista Creek Ecological Reserve will be offered Jan. 12, Jan. 26 and Feb 9. 

The tours will allow access to the restricted nature reserve and historic site and share a wealth of information about the valley.

Diane Nygaard, founder of Preserve Calavera, will lead the tours. She has spearheaded valley preservation efforts for more than a decade.

“We’ll focus on early activity, the water source, topography, how everything works together,” Nygaard said. “It’s a very unique area for early American culture and history. With the creek, waterfall and wildlife corridor, you don’t have a place like that, that’s fairly intact.”

The walk will allow participants to see sacred Native American sites, historic ranch land and present wildlife. Stops include shell middens left by Native Americans and the historic Marron Adobe that was part of the original Mexican land grant.

The unique area also includes a coastal waterfall, three artisan ponds and a wildlife corridor. It is home to numerous bird species, fox and deer.

“You never know exactly what we’ll see on a short hike,” Nygaard said. “This time of year there’s the gnatcatcher, if we don’t see it, we’ll at least hear it.”

The valley has remained intact through a series of successful conservation efforts. Residents raised funds in 2007 to finance the purchase of half the valley that the Center for Natural Lands Management now maintains as a reserve.

Grants gained in 2008, 2009 and 2010 funded restoration projects to replanted historic farm sites within the reserve with native plants. This has encouraged more wildlife to return.

“Animals are starting to move back to the area,” Nygaard said. “Fox and deer groups as large as four have been seen.”

Efforts are under way to add permanent trails. Currently animal paths and historic farm trails are used for guided hikes.

Preserve Calavera and other environmental groups are also working with McMillin Development and the city of Carlsbad to help set guidelines for the proposed housing project that is set to break ground adjacent to the reserve.

The walking tour will include information on the planned housing project and compromises that are needed to protect the reserve. The hope is that profitable development, affordable housing and a historic sense of place can coexist.

Nygaard said the walking tour is a last chance effort to inform residents of the impact of the development.

“They’ll understand what’s at risk when McMillin Development drastically impacts the valley,” Nygaard said. “It’s important to understand what we still have.”

Carlsbad Planning Commission and City Council will make final decisions on the proposed project in February.

The walking tours will be held Jan. 12, Jan. 26 and Feb. 9, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. rain or shine. The meet up area for the tours is the cul-de-sac on Haymar Road near the historic Marron Adobe. For more information, visit