Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Los Osos Sweet Springs Nature Preserve expands acreage, species habitat

sweet springs nature preserve
Rachel Showalter
The 33-acre Sweet Springs Nature Preserve is not only home to about 40 nesting bird species, but also a number of other endangered plants and animals.

The Sweet Springs Nature Preserve is nestled in the Baywood neighborhood of Los Osos right along Morro Bay. It’s a 33 acre wildlife sanctuary meant to support migrant birds all year long and it’s expanding.

The preserve is wooded in some areas and it opens up to a productive marsh land that’s fed by little streams on the property.

The Morro Coast Audubon Society manages the preserve. They’re a conservation non-profit focused on supporting birds and their habitat. Judy Neuhauser is the organization’s president.

“I think it was 240 species that have been documented in the preserve. We have about 40 that nest,” Neuhauser said.

She said they’ve seen great horned owls, peregrine falcons, bald eagles and osprey around the preserve.

Neuhauser said they purchased an extra acre of land along Pismo Avenue and 3rd Street directly next to the preserve. She said the extra space will further support the wildlife and ecosystem that is important for several endangered plants and animals at Sweet Springs.

sweet springs.jpg
Morro Coast Audubon Society
Members of the public will not be allowed entrance into most of the new parcel of land. Although a footpath will be accessible that connects to the rest of the preserve.

“So it’s willow thicket and it is thicket," Neuhauser said. "It is blackberry, willow, poison oak, stinging nettle. It’s not a place where you really want to go back into.”

It might not be a great spot for humans but Neuhauser said it’s a crucial habitat for birds. The rest of the preserve has wooden accessible pathways built up for visitors but this new area won’t really be for public use.

“For the most part, we’re leaving it alone,” Neuhauser said.

She said it will have a footpath with spiny plants growing alongside it to discourage off-pathway use. They plan to remove invasive species like ice plant and veldt grass. A new fence and gate will also be installed.

Neuhauser said the more land they preserve for wildlife, the more benefits become available for the greater environment.

“By providing habitat for birds to nest, and for birds to thrive, we are providing ecological services for the entire community.”

Community members Carole Maurer and John Dilworth donated $300,000 to make the purchase of the land possible. The land was purchased from Kathryn Donovan for $250,000.

To find out more about how to support the project, visit

Note: This story has been corrected to show that the land was purchased from Kathryn Donovan with money donated by Carole Maurer and John Dilworth.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.