Warm Springs

Area: 113 acres

Location: City of Murrieta, Riverside County, California

Date Acquired: 2001-2002

Acquisition Type: CNLM owns the preserve.  We protect and manage imperiled species and habitats on the preserve in perpetuity.

Introduction

The Warm Springs Preserve consists of 113 acres in two units within the City of Murrieta, Riverside County, California. This Preserve was established under the Assessment District 161 Subregional Habitat Conservation Plan to mitigate for impacts to the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), the federally endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino), and numerous other listed and sensitive species. The Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) owns and manages the land. Much of the surrounding lands are open space held in conservation by local agencies and municipalities.

Conservation Significance

From the banks of Warm Springs Creek within the Preserve, a visitor can easily forget being within one of the nation’s fastest growing urban areas. Rising rapidly from the creek to the north of the Preserve are The Hogbacks—steep clay and granite hills within the Preserve that were, until 2012, covered in dense chaparral and sage scrub. The vegetation is now undergoing recovery after a 2012 wildfire burned 85 acres of the Preserve.  Some of the riparian vegetation within the creek was impacted but other areas still remain lined with large coast live oaks and cottonwoods.  As a result of the major change in the composition of the vegetation on the Preserve, some species that were regular inhabitants have not been observed during the breeding season in recent years. These species include coastal California gnatcatcher, Bell’s sage sparrow (Amphispiza belli belli), and Southern California rufous-sided sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps canescens).  Rare plants that occur on the Preserve include long-spined spineflower (Chorizanthe polygonoides var. longispina) and Palmer’s grapplinghook (Harpagonella palmeri).

Our Work

CNLM owns and manages the Warm Springs Preserve. The primary management goals are to maintain habitat for the coastal California gnatcatcher, Quino checkerspot butterfly, and other sensitive species that utilize the various habitats. Although the primary management focus is on the sage scrub community, the dominance of chaparral and riparian vegetation provides a broader diversity of species. CNLM’s management strategy includes controlling nonnative invasive weeds, monitoring the reproductive performance of native plant species, and limiting public access to the least sensitive areas.

Public Access

Please contact the preserve manager for information about public access.

Some pedestrian access has been allowed in the past on the western section of the Preserve only,  via one designated hiking trail that runs north to south on the Allison parcel and the loop trail on the HighPointe parcel. However, we are requesting that the public refrain from Preserve access at this time.  The Preserve habitats are only slowly recovering from the fire damage, and certain sensitive animal species are just beginning to tentatively re-establish. Any disturbance could undermine these sensitive recovery and re-establishment processes. We will provide updated information on our website as restoration and recovery continue and provide notice when the Preserve has re-opened for hiking purposes. We appreciate the patience and understanding of the public.

Contact.

For information and inquiries regarding Warm Springs or Center for Natural Lands Management,  please contact Regional Preserve Manager, Kim Klementowski at  kklementowski@cnlm.org or 760.731.7790 extension 208.