Trail tour reveals open space treasures in northwest Carlsbad
May 09, 2012
A group of nature lovers, and landscape architects met recently to tour City of Carlsbad open space as part of national Landscape Architecture Month.
(Watch a video
about the golf course trail.)
City park planners Mark Steyaert and Liz Ketabian, both landscape architects, led the trek around some of Carlsbad’s northern open space properties and noted that the city has committed to set aside more than one-third of its land as open space of various forms. According to Steyaert, Carlsbad’s open space includes active parks where people play, passive parks where people walk and interact with nature, and preserves set aside for protected species of plants and animals.
Steyaert noted that even those places where people can’t go provide stunning views of lagoons and hillsides that make Carlsbad a special place.
“So the open space is part of the experience,” Steyaert said.
The walk did a one-mile loop, beginning at The Crossings golf course, then following Legoland Trail and Cannon Drive to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center. The walkers went back to the golf course using Faraday Avenue and The Crossings Trail
. This area was chosen by the American Society of Landscape Architects as one of four walks in San Diego County that demonstrate to the general public the diverse skills of the landscape architecture profession.
Kurt Carlson, a landscape architect and principal with KTU+A and one of the walk’s speakers, noted that plans for the golf course underwent many changes. Carlson was the principal landscape architect on The Crossings development project. His work included creating new coastal sage scrub habitat, in addition to designing and planting the landscape at the clubhouse and throughout the course.
He said he enjoyed the project and its challenges, which involved preserving and protecting much of the site's original topography and environmental setting. The 400-acre golf course merges recreation for humans with habitat for plants and animals.
“We protected the integrity of the site and the natural resources” in landscaping the course, Carlson said.
Michael Sweesy, a habitat restoration specialist and landscape architect with Dudek, an environmental consulting firm, greeted the walkers at a bridge that crosses Macario Creek. He told them that the golf course has added 40 new acres of coastal sage scrub, a favored habitat for native species, and that two bird species—the least Bell’s vireo, which is listed as endangered, and the California gnatcatcher, a threatened species—nest in the natural plants that are interwoven with the fairways and greens. The Crossings’ natural areas are part of the city’s Habitat Management Plan
Sweesy noted that before the development of the golf course the area was home to five nesting pair of California gnatcatchers, and “as of last year there were 19 breeding pairs, so there’s a net gain of 14 breeding pair.”
“Most of the golf holes were built on agricultural land; it wasn’t habitat,” he noted. “The city built the golf course and restored habitat.
“By all measures it’s been a very successful project,” Sweesy said. “The city should definitely be proud of it.”
On the walk’s final segment through The Crossings, golfers teed up on the 13th hole and sized up their shots. It’s likely that while they had their minds on birdies, less than a chip shot away some birdies had their minds on them.
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