Buena Vista Audubon and Land Acquisition

BVAS Wetlands Reserve

BV Lagoon Parcel

BVAS Wetlands Reserve was BVAS's first property acquisition; Escrow closed in January, 2016 on this 3.5-acre piece of property across the street from the BVAS Nature Center. This parcel is a key piece of rare undeveloped coastal habitat, and is also adjacent to the Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

Home to the endangered Light-footed Ridgway's Rail (formerly known as Clapper's Rail) and other rare species of birds, this piece of land also provides a buffer between urban development and the Ecological Reserve. BVAS plans to restore this parcel to its historical salt marsh wetlands and coastal sage scrub habitat in the future. More immediately, BVAS is working to remove exotic plants, such as eucalyptus trees, fennel, and ice plant, and engages in regular trash removal and erosion control.

The property was slated to become an 82-room hotel in 2008, but due to wetland delineation issues identified by the Coastal Commission, the project was scrapped. Shortly after, BVAS looked into purchasing the property, but the price of $7 million was prohibitive; In 2013,a new owner dropped the price to $1.5 million, and expressed interest in BVAS purchasing the land for conservation. BVAS then began the land purchasing process, including reaching out to BVAS members, the community, and state agencies for support.

BVAS created the BVAS Ridgway's Rail Society Land Acquisition Fund to raise money from the community. Through this fund, $70,000 was acquired from over 200 individual donors. In addition, three non-profit groups each pledged $50,000 towards purchase of the land: Preserve Calavera, North County Advocates, and The Wimberly Fund of Audubon California. And the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation donated $10,000. This community commitment, support and, collaboration paved the way for BVAS to be awarded a grant of $1.35 million given from the Wildlife Conservation Board of the Department of Fish & Wildlife in December, 2015,to complete the funding needed to acquire the land.

BVAS Andy Mauro Nature Preserve

San Luis Rey Parcel 3

BVAS plans to restore the property to coastal sage scrub, grasslands and maritime succulent scrub to provide habitat for the federally protected coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) and the coastal cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus). BVAS developed the five-year restoration plan in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Navy and Camp Pendleton.


BVAS closed escrow in 2017 on purchasing a 31-acre parcel (previously owned by the Cheatham family) that lies in between the San Luis Rey River and Camp Pendleton.  The property lies at the end of Muirfield Drive in Oceanside.

Acquiring this land has  linked together four contiguous open space areas: Camp Pendleton directly to the north and two city-owned properties and Whelan Lake Bird Sanctuary to the east (see map).  City-owned property within the San Luis Rey River floodplain was restored in 2015 to provide habitat for the endangered Southwest Willow Flycatcher and Least Bell’s Vireo.

BVAS has hired Trestles Environmental Corporation (from Fallbrook) to conduct and manage this project. The first two years of restoration will focus solely on removing invasive weeds. These efforts kicked off in late August, 2019, with the rumble of mowing machines cutting swaths through thickets of fennel, mustard, and thistle. Planting and seeding of native plants will occur from years 3-5.  Once restoration is complete, long-term management begins, which involves land maintenance activities and monitoring into perpetuity.


BVAS is grateful to those who helped make it possible to permanently protect this parcel.

Land Conservation Brokerage, Inc, facilitated the complex land acquisition transaction, which included helping find funding partners. The United States Department of the Navy paid for half of the $1.56 million acquisition costs, and is paying for all of the restoration and long-term management costs-in all, an approximate $3.1 million value. And the California Natural Resources Agency awarded BVAS $700,000 for the land acquisition.  As with the BVAS Wetlands Reserve purchase, BVAS members and partners stepped up to help make up the $115,000 funding shortfall:  Donations from members covered about $40,000, and North County Advocates, California Audubon's Wimberly Fund, and the Malk Nature Fund made up the rest by contributing $20,000, $25,000, and $30,000, respectively.

And a special thank you to the Cheatham family (Scot & Aileen, and David & Sharon) for working with BVAS over the past three years, patiently waiting for us to find the right funding partners, and agreeing to extend the purchase agreement.


BVAS wishes to thank all our donors & volunteers for helping make acquiring & protecting these critical pieces of land possible.


Besides protecting and restoring wildlife habitat, the Andy Mauro Nature Preserve also hosts a UNAVCO GPS monitoring station, which monitors the earth's movement using satellites and geodesy. For more information on this cool project, check out the UNAVCO website.

Future Funding Needs: The Ridgway's Rail Society Fund

Willow flycatcher
Willow flycatcher

What now? BVAS has now acquired the BVAS Wetlands Reserve and BVAS Andy Mauro Nature Preserve, but we continue to raise funds for the Ridgway's Rail Society Fund for managing and restoring these properties, for  future land acquisitions,  conservation easements, and advocacy work.  For more information about the Ridgway's Rail Society Fund.

Our Mission

To protect and preserve our region's birds, biodiversity, and threatened habitats, and to promote conservation of our natural resources through advocacy, education, and both habitat restoration and management.

Mailing Address

Buena Vista Audubon
PO Box 480
Oceanside, CA 92049

Nature Center

2202 S. Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054



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