San Diego Habitat Conservancy Managed Preserves

To learn more about the various habitat types found at SDHC’s preserves and throughout southern California, click on the name below:

  • Chaparral
  • Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub
  • Eucalyptus Woodland
  • Grassland
  • Oak Woodland
  • Riparian

Chaparral Habitat

Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Orange-throated Whiptail Lizard
California Quail

 

Chaparral is one of the most abundant habitats in California consisting of dense growths of evergreen woody shrubs, such as manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), scrub oak (Quercus spp.),and wild-lilac (Ceanothus spp.). Birds such as the Cooper’s hawk and western scrub-jay, butterflies, and reptiles like the orange-throated whiptail lizard seek shelter in these drought-tolerant plants. Currently, chaparral covers 5% of the land in California and consists of approximately 630,000 acres in San Diego County. San Diego Habitat Conservancy’s preserves currently contain 3 types of chaparral:

  • Chamise chaparral - Dominated by chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum).
  • Southern mixed chaparral – Dominant shrubs vary but include chamise, toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia), and manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa).
  • Southern maritime chaparral – Similar to southern mixed chaparral, but occurs on sandstone.

Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub Habitat

Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub
California Gnatcatcher
San Diego Thorn Mint
Red-tailed Hawk
Greater Roadrunner

 

Diegan coastal sage scrub, a uniquely southern California habitat, consists of sparse, low-growing shrubs that are aromatic, soft, and mostly gray-green in color. Common plants include California sagebrush (Artemesia californica), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), black sage (Salvia mellifera), white sage (Salvia apiana), and lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia). Nearly 70% of the coastal sage scrub habitat that was present in San Diego County has been destroyed, primarily due to urbanization and agriculture. Much of the remaining 248,000 acres occur in small, isolated patches. An interconnected habitat of coastal sage scrub is vital to supporting the survival of species such as the threatened California gnatcatcher and the endangered San Diego thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia).

Eucalyptus Woodland Habitat


Blue Gum Eucalyptus

Mature Eucalyptus

Raptor Nest

Eucalyptus Woodland habitat, although primarily composed of non-native, invasive eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus sp.), may provide valuable foraging and nesting habitat for local and migrating birds. The primary species of eucalyptus in San Diego include Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), Sugar Gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx), Bushy Yate (Eucalyptus conferruminata), and Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus).

These trees suppress native vegetation by creating thick litter on the ground and blocking the sunlight from reaching native plants below. Generally, SDHC takes a balancing approach to managing this habitat by generally leaving in place those established trees that provide foraging and nesting habitat and removing smaller trees and larger trees that can be removed without destroying neighboring native vegetation.

Grassland Habitat

Grassland view
purple needelgrass
Purple Needlegrass
blue-eyed grass
Blue-eyed Grass
San Diego needlegrass
San Diego Needlegrass

Grasslands in San Diego County generally consist of a mix of non-native annuals and native annuals and perennials such as purple needlegrass (Stipa pulchra), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), and California fescue (Festuca californica). Non-native grasslands generally consist of annual grasses (Bromus spp., Avena spp.) that originated from the Mediterranean region of Europe, an area with a climate similar to California.

Coast Live Oak Woodland Habitat


Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Engelmann Oak

Mule Deer

Oak Woodland habitat supports a diverse assemblage of wildlife species, many dependent on oaks for food, nesting sites, foraging areas, or escape cover. Common plants include coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), and blackberry (Rubus ursinus). Protected species include Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii), coastal western whiptail, Cooper’s hawk, and rufous-crowned sparrow. Coast live oak woodland is dominated by coast live oaks that may reach 35 to 80 feet tall. Approximately 119,000 acres of oak woodland are still found in San Diego County.

Riparian Habitat

river and plants
Pacidic Chorus frog Yoyon
Pacific Chorus Frog
Toyon
Mallard
Least Bell's Vireo

Wetlands are vital to a healthy water supply for San Diego as they serve as natural filters, replenish groundwater, and help protect against flooding. Yet, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 94% of inland wetlands in California have been drained. Types of wetlands managed by SDHC include coastal and valley freshwater marsh and a variety of riparian habitats that are found along streams throughout the San Diego region. Riparian comes from the Latin ‘ripa’, meaning the bank of a river. Approximately 58,000 acres of riparian habitat remain in San Diego County. Animals that rely on this type of habitat include the federally protected least Bell’s vireo, Pacific chorus frogs, alligator lizards, and many migratory birds such as warblers.

  • Coastal and valley freshwater marsh – Occurs along the coast and in coastal valleys near river mouths and around lakes and springs. Home to sensitive plants such as spiny rush (Juncus acutus ssp. leopoldii) and San Diego marsh elder (Iva hayesiana).
  • Riparian scrub – San Diego Habitat Conservancy manages several types of riparian scrub, including southern willow scrub, mulefat scrub, and floodplain riparian scrub, so named based upon the dominant plant species. The understory of these riparian scrubs usually includes poison oak, rushes, and other water-loving plants.
  • Riparian woodland –Typical tree species include coast live oak, arroyo willow, cottonwood, and western sycamore. Woodlands are typically less dense than forests.
  • Riparian forest – Most trees in our riparian forests are winter deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in the winter. San Diego Habitat Conservancy manages several types of riparian forest, including:
    • Southern cottonwood-willow riparian forest – Dominated by species of willow (Salix sp.), cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and western sycamore (Platanus racemosa).
    • Southern coast live oak riparian forest – Dominated by coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) with scattering of others, such as western sycamore (Platanus racemosa), willow (Salix sp.), mulefat (Baccharis salicifolia), and toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia).

Riparian Habitat

river and plants
Pacidic Chorus frog Yoyon
Pacific Chorus Frog
Toyon
Mallard
Least Bell's Vireo

Wetlands are vital to a healthy water supply for San Diego as they serve as natural filters, replenish groundwater, and help protect against flooding. Yet, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 94% of inland wetlands in California have been drained. Types of wetlands managed by SDHC include coastal and valley freshwater marsh and a variety of riparian habitats that are found along streams throughout the San Diego region. Riparian comes from the Latin ‘ripa’, meaning the bank of a river. Approximately 58,000 acres of riparian habitat remain in San Diego County. Animals that rely on this type of habitat include the federally protected least Bell’s vireo, Pacific chorus frogs, alligator lizards, and many migratory birds such as warblers.

  • Coastal and valley freshwater marsh – Occurs along the coast and in coastal valleys near river mouths and around lakes and springs. Home to sensitive plants such as spiny rush (Juncus acutus ssp. leopoldii) and San Diego marsh elder (Iva hayesiana).
  • Riparian scrub – San Diego Habitat Conservancy manages several types of riparian scrub, including southern willow scrub, mulefat scrub, and floodplain riparian scrub, so named based upon the dominant plant species. The understory of these riparian scrubs usually includes poison oak, rushes, and other water-loving plants.
  • Riparian woodland –Typical tree species include coast live oak, arroyo willow, cottonwood, and western sycamore. Woodlands are typically less dense than forests.
  • Riparian forest – Most trees in our riparian forests are winter deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in the winter. San Diego Habitat Conservancy manages several types of riparian forest, including:
    • Southern cottonwood-willow riparian forest – Dominated by species of willow (Salix sp.), cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and western sycamore (Platanus racemosa).
    • Southern coast live oak riparian forest – Dominated by coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) with scattering of others, such as western sycamore (Platanus racemosa), willow (Salix sp.), mulefat (Baccharis salicifolia), and toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia).

SDHC’s preserves are closed to the public. For questions regarding access, please contact us at SDHC@sdhabitat.org.