Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve/Calaveras

New Enforcement Coming to Carlsbad Trails  
   - Ben Stone (SDMBA Vice President)

           The San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDMBA) would like to get the word out to all trails users about the issues we have been working on recently regarding the area called Calaveras, but officially known as Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve (CHER). A recent development is that The City of Carlsbad has received a grant from San Diego Association of Governments  (SANDAG) for a one-year pilot program for two new Law Enforcement Rangers in the City of Carlsbad. Although these are Ranger positions, they will work under the City of Carlsbad Police Department and they will have the ability to write tickets and arrest.

           Although initial publications from the City of Carlsbad City Council and responses from the Carlsbad Parks and Recreation seemed to make this position out to focus on the issue of vandalism and homeless encampments, we have found information contrary to these statements. After a Freedom of Information Act request was submitted to the City of Carlsbad, SDMBA has been given a copy of of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between SANDAG and the City of Carlsbad regarding the implementation of this grant. The MOU specifically mentions not only will these Rangers patrol City of Carlsbad lands, but will also patrol adjoining Preserves that are part of the City of Carlsbad’s Habitat Management Plan. This could include Center for Natural Land Management (CNLM) land and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) land like Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve.

View complete MOU here:

Further, the scope of work included in the MOU contains the following important quotes:

“ln areas off limits to human access and subject to unauthorized activities such as homeless encampments, mountain biking, and rock climbing, more active enforcement leading to eviction and potential arrest is necessary.”

“Current efforts involving California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens are limited due to a lack of staffing required for patrolling the vast amounts of open space now preserved throughout the region.”

           If you ride trails in the Calaveras area and care about these open spaces the time is now to be concerned. SDMBA believes it would be a considerable mistake for the City of Carlsbad to make efforts to enforce and ticket members of the public recreating on the Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve. Currently, SDMBA is working towards solutions to reasonable public access on the Reserve in a partnership with CDFW. There are considerable trails across the property that are used by the public extensively for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking. A comprehensive Trails Plan and a Management Plan that includes legal access for mountain biking must be put into place first before enforcement is increased.

               Community buy-in and stewardship is key to solutions of preserve management in urban areas. Please contact me if you are interested in helping with this issue and getting involved. Please report any activity or enforcement in the area out of the ordinary to us! Also please get the word out that we are working towards and solution in the area and any new trail building projects will jeopardize those efforts.

Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve - Call to Action:

Your support and cooperation is needed and will be needed as we move forward with trail advocacy efforts in the Carlsbad area.  Carlsbad residents and trail users in the Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve area are needed to express the following points to elected officials via phone calls or written communication:

-Communicate how much you, as a mountain biker, value, respect, and enjoy the natural resources and the recreational opportunities in the Carlsbad area and what it means to you and your family.

-Support for SDMBA’s efforts to engage California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), local riders, businesses and other groups in order to create a public partnership with the goal of public compliance with a future trails and management plan, and in-turn offer stewardship in public lands and assistance in restoration of damaged areas.

-Support for CDFW to put forward a request in partnership with SDMBA to the California Fish and Game Commission to allow mountain biking as a legal use in Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve.  

-Support SDMBA in this process by ceasing any new trail building efforts on CDFW property.

-Support a Management Plan in Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve that allows for public access and education for the surrounding community.


Government Contacts:

State Senator Pat Bates/36th District  760-642-0809 (local office);

State Assemblymember Rocky Chavez/76th District  760-433-7601 (local office);

City of Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall

Carlsbad City Council

    Mark Packard

    Keith Blackburn

    Michael Schumacher

    Cory Schumacher


For further information or for press inquiries, please contact:

Ben Stone (Vice President)

Susie Murphy (Executive Director)

Recent Press/Media:

June 5.  San Diego Reader.  Fish and Wildlife Squeeze Bikers From Carlsbad's Lake Calavera.

June 9. CBS8. Popular Carlsbad Trails May Soon be Off Limits.

Map of Calaveras/Carlsbad Highland Ecological Reserve
Yellow:  CDFW
Purple: City of Carlsbad
Green:  School District