On the north and northeast side of the park lies the Protected Natural (or Nature) Area. This is the last section of the landfill to be completed and capped. As the signage says, it is off limits to people and dogs at all times, and there is a minimum $100 fine for trespassing. This is one of the few areas in the park that is never mowed, except for a strip along its boundary path. As a result, very little if any foxtail growth is found here. The native vegetation outcompetes foxtails for soil nutrients and sunshine. Ground Squirrels and Black-tailed Hares may be found here. Western Meadowlarks, Song Sparrows, White-tailed Kites, Northern Harriers, Barn Owls, and the occasional Burrowing Owl forage or settle for a season in these acres.
The Nature Area has the northern edge of the Dog Park for a neighbor. The lack of an effective boundary led to repeated off-leash dog invasions into the Nature Area, disturbing wildlife including the federally protected owl. A fence installed in the spring of 2020 greatly reduced these disturbances. The fence also closed off an unauthorized dirt road carved by maintenance trucks across the Nature Area. In the fall of 2021, volunteers led by the Chavez Park Conservancy undertook to heal the scar and restore the Nature Area’s integrity. See “Ghosting a Road,” Nov 7 2021.