This project assisted with acquisition of the 18.11-acre Mitsuuchi property, located immediately adjacent to Batiquitos Lagoon in the City of Carlsbad. The coastal lagoon is the site of a $55 million tidal restoration and habitatenhancement project that was completed in 1996, assisted by Conservancy planning grants. Conservancy financial support for the Mitsuuchi acquisition helped facilitate conservation and management of habitat important for the long-term functioning of the lagoon, protected valuable open space and wildlife habitat, and provided opportunities for improved coastal public access.
The Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, the Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) shared a concern that development pressures, soil erosion and invasion by non-native plants threaten loss of the Mitsuuchi Property’s significant coastal wetland values and degradation of the adjacent ecological reserve. The 18-acre parcel comprises much of the little remaining habitat surrounding the lagoon, including habitat used by endangered species.
The Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan (HMP), a local plan permitted under the federal Natural Communities Conservation Planning program (NCCP) and the Northwest San Diego County Multiple Habitat Conservation Plan (MHCP), affords some protection for the property but still allows limited development. Because of previous large scale habitat losses to development, state and federal regulators believed fee acquisition of the entire Mitsuuchi parcel followed by restoration was necessary to protect and enhance lagoon functioning and to help preserve amounts and kinds of habitat and linkages necessary to sustain viable regional populations of critical species.
Specifically, acquisition of the Mitsuuchi Property provides significant resource conservation benefits including: 1) protection of a wetland to upland habitat transition zone supporting important refugia for wetland species during flooding; 2) protection and future enhancement of breeding, sheltering and foraging habitat for the unique upland and wetland species that occupy the transition zone, including the Federally listed California gnatcatcher, least Bell’s vireo and light-footed clapper rail; 3) control of non-native species and erosion that threaten existing ecological resources; and 4) maintenance of a habitat buffer between the lagoon and surrounding development.