Nature Reserve Highlights
Buena Vista lagoon lies in North San Diego County, within both Carlsbad and Oceanside. The 223-acre wetland habitat is fed by 19 square miles of watershed. The California Department of Fish and Game owns the vast majority (198 acres); the remainder is privately owned. Buena Vista lagoon is a State Ecological Reserve.
Fishing and passive recreation are permitted uses, and a Visitor Center run by the local chapter of the National Audubon Society offers interpretive information. Interstate 5, Hill Street, and the Southern Pacific Railroad all cross the lagoon, dividing it into 4 basins
Native Plants and Animals
Buena Vista lagoon edges are dominated by narrow and broad-leaf cattails, spiny rush and bulrush. A small salt marsh area includes pickleweed, marsh rosemary, and alkali weed.
The upland community contains mainly introduced species such as eucalyptus, giant reed, and ice plant. At least 103 bird species, 18 mammals, and 14 amphibians and reptiles have made the lagoon their home. A 1994 sewage spill caused the loss of at least seven fish species in the lagoon.
Several components of a watershed enhancement program initiated in 1982 to reduce sedimentation in the Buena Vista lagoon have been implemented, including construction of two sediment basins and channel enhancements.
A joint powers authority has been formed among the three cities in the watershed to improve and coordinate erosion control efforts in the watershed. In 1983, 160,00 cubic yards of sediment were dredged from the east basin and two least tern nesting islands were created.
Built, owned, operated, and staffed by members and volunteers of the Buena Vista Audubon Society chapter, The visitors center is located next to the lagoon at Coast Highway 101 in Oceanside.
The Audubon Nature Center is open 6 days a week with trained docents providing guided nature walks and classroom programs. Local schools and community groups are encouraged to bring groups and classes to better understand our lagoon’s own unique environment. Next to the center is an area with picnic tables, a kiosk with information, and a trailhead.