Tag Archives: Escondido Creek

The Escondido Creek Conservancy Fire Prevention Project Awarded Funding

Fire Prevention Project Awarded Funding

The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) has won a grant for $552,097 to reduce weeds and prevent fires in the heart of the Escondido Creek watershed. The funding was awarded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Proposition 1 Watershed Restoration Grant Program and was the only implementation grant funded south of Ventura County. The work is set to begin this fall along Escondido Creek between Harmony Grove and Olivenhain.

“Dry, invasive weeds create a tinderbox throughout our open spaces and surrounding communities. We are grateful for The Escondido Creek Conservancy’s support in helping reduce the threat of fire,” said Fred Cox, Fire Chief for the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District

One of the greatest threats to California’s unique native landscapes is infestation from non-native invasive plants, often referred to as weeds. These weeds, such as highly flammable non-native grasses, put our neighborhoods and wild areas at risk of devastation due to catastrophic wildfires. The funding from this grant will support fire prevention as part of a watershed-wide invasive plant management strategy. The Conservancy will hire arborists and restoration contractors, including youth from the San Diego Urban Corps, putting people to work in these difficult economic times.

“We love helping our wildlife in the Escondido Creek watershed, but it’s wonderful to be part of a project that also protects people—in this case it’s from the risk of wildfire,” added Hannah Walchak, Conservation Land Manager for the Conservancy.

In addition to reducing risk of wildfire, we’re also restoring San Diego County’s renowned biodiversity. The combination of great biodiversity with a large and growing human population results in San Diego County having among the largest numbers of rare and endangered species (San Diego County Mammal Atlas, 2017). With more than 95% of our region’s riparian habitat lost, it is critical to celebrate functioning patches of precious oak riparian woodlands, reduce wildfire risk, and provide safe access for residents to enjoy these special places that were once common (Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project, 2001).

Vicki Lake, Program Manager, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grant Programs, stated, “Controlling invasive plants and reducing fuel loads in riparian areas is critical to making our watersheds more resilient. The investments we make today in the work being done by our grantees like The Escondido Creek Conservancy will ensure that habitat for native plants, fish and wildlife continue to be a part of California’s future,”

The project area spans an approximately 8-mile stretch of the Escondido Creek, from Harmony Grove to Olivenhain. The project aims to treat at least 70 acres of public and private lands along Escondido Creek, including three Conservancy-owned Preserves and about 3,000 linear feet of creek frontage on at least four private neighboring sites that border and intercede conserved lands.

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The Escondido Creek Conservancy Invites You To Help Support Local Wildlife “Corridors”

The Escondido Creek Conservancy Invites You To Help Support Local Wildlife “Corridors”

The benefit to be held on land previously proposed for development The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) invites the public to support North County’s imperiled wildlife at “Corridors,” a benefit on May 30th, from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. Guests are invited to the George Sardina, MD Preserve in Escondido for hayride tours of the land, local beer and wine, acoustic music, delicious artisan pizza, and an intimate wildlife encounter. Early Bird ticket prices start at $125 per person and are available at escondidocreek.org/corridors. VIP pricing and corporate sponsorships are also available. All proceeds help continue the Conservancy’s conservation and education programs in North County San Diego.

This outdoor event takes place on George Sardina, MD Preserve, which was protected in 2019 as part of the Conservancy’s highly successful Save 1000 Acres campaign to help create permanent wildlife corridors for mule deer, mountain lions, and other wildlife. The 282-acre parcel was previously proposed for development and has been heavily impacted by prior uses. This is a unique opportunity to see a property in the beginning stages of habitat restoration and talk to local wildlife experts about the importance of conservation.

Guests at “Corridors” will hear from its non-profit partner Lumbercycle about how the Conservancy is recycling non-native trees to help fight climate change, and they will meet rescued birds of prey from Sky Hunters. The Mountain Lion Foundation and a UC Davis field scientist will also be present to discuss how the Conservancy’s work supports the research underway on mountain lion populations in Southern California—which are at risk of local extinction.

The Conservancy encourages the community to share their passion for this work and invite family, friends, and neighbors to support the Conservancy’s work, which has helped protect over 8,000 acres from development and provides outdoor education to every third grader in the Escondido Unified School District.

“Reidy” For A New Year; A Creek Makeover

“Reidy” For A New Year; A Creek Makeover

Earlier this fall, a long-overdue restoration project began at Reidy Creek! Although the Conservancy is The Escondido Creek Conservancy, its conservation focus is the entire Escondido Creek watershed, which contains additional tributaries (drainages), including Reidy Creek. Escondido residents may know Reidy Creek as the creek that runs behind the Escondido Police Department headquarters, and by the community garden. Enhancing and improving Reidy Creek provides an opportunity to showcase what other creeks in the watershed could become: ribbon parks bisecting the city with beautiful native trees and plants, clean water, and–perhaps in the future–safe walking and biking trails for local residents.

“During the restoration process, we’ve had many residents and neighbors near Reidy Creek—some having lived here over 20 years—expressing gratitude towards the project,” said Juan Troncoso, Conservation Associate for The Escondido Creek Conservancy, “They are grateful for the natural beauty and recreational value we are returning to their backyard.”

The portion of Reidy Creek behind the Escondido Police Department has become an area of public safety concern over the last decade, due to unauthorized encampments and resultant trash and water pollution. In recent years, the City of Escondido has been working to address these issues. Last year the City and CalFire began a program to reduce non-native plants in Reidy Creek and remove trash and hazardous waste, which has greatly improved the area. “We really appreciate all the work The Escondido Creek Conservancy has organized so far. The removal of overgrowth and non-native plant species has really helped open up this waterway and has had a positive effect on our community,” says Justin Frasor, Community Manager of Reidy Creek Apartments.

In September, the Conservancy began a multi-year program to remove hundreds of non-native trees and plants that are choking the creek and taking up space that might otherwise be used by native plants and wildlife. Reidy Creek is an especially important tributary because it remains relatively natural, unlike Escondido Creek—much of which has been lined with concrete within the urban portion of the city. Thanks to funding from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Watershed Restoration Grant Program, students from the Urban Corps of San Diego county controlled invasive, non-native plants in the understory at Reidy Creek. This involved distinguishing between native and invasive plants, and using multiple methods for control. Corps members will return throughout the spring and in the next two years to continue removing invasive understory plants and emerging palm trees, thereby shifting the plant community back toward a native one.

The Conservancy will also expand its Conservation Fellowship program next summer so high school students living near the creek can participate in the restoration and witness the transformation. Nearby residents will also be able to participate in summer nature walks and bird watching near the creek so that they too can witness the transformation!

If you’re interested in participating in the restoration or learning about the Conservation Fellowship, please email Nathan Serrato, nathan@escondidocreek.org

Patagonia Awards $8,000 to The Escondido Creek Conservancy

Patagonia Awards $8,000 to The Escondido Creek Conservancy

The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) was awarded $8,000 from Patagonia to help with the restoration of the 693-acre Mountain Meadow Preserve (Preserve). The Preserve was acquired in 2018 as part of the Conservancy’s Save 1000 Acres campaign and is owned by San Diego County Parks & Recreation and the Conservancy, but managed by the Conservancy. Patagonia funded, Growing the Future, a volunteer-powered native seed collecting, processing, and storing operation to initiate restoration on degraded agricultural lands at the Preserve.

The Conservancy is truly grateful for businesses like Patagonia that recognize their impact on the environment and make it part of their mission to give back. “For us, it’s not charity or traditional philanthropy. It’s part of the cost of doing business. We call it our Earth Tax,” reads Patagonia’s Environmental + Social Initiatives. Their Earth Tax is now funding restoration in the Escondido Creek watershed with the Growing the Future project, which will catalyze the Conservancy’s largest-ever habitat restoration project.

What makes this initiative special is that, in addition to restoring critical, precious coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitat, it will give the Conservancy the chance to engage a more diverse range of volunteers. “Restoration can be hard work that isn’t always generally accessible to everyone, but community members of all physical and mental capabilities will be invited to participate in this rewarding method of conservation,” says Hannah Walchak, the Conservancy’s Conservation Land Manager. Volunteers will be inspired to commit to nature–and each other–because the project will show tangible results, enhance participant skillsets, and foster group experiences.

For those interested in becoming a volunteer for the project, please visit escondidocreek.org/volunteer.

Explore the Wonders of the Watershed with The Escondido Creek Conservancy’s new hike series!

Explore the Wonders of the Watershed with The Escondido Creek Conservancy’s new hike series!

The Escondido Creek Conservancy is providing special access to its wildlife preserves for a new educational hike series called Wonders of the Watershed. Participants will wander under scenic oak canopies, walk along soothing creek water, and view breathtaking summits throughout the Escondido Creek watershed with experts on local ecology, birds of prey, and forest bathing.

The Conservancy manages over 3,100 acres of land in the Escondido Creek watershed. Many of its preserves are protected wildlife corridors and only accessible with a guide. Those joining this hike series are helping support the Conservancy’s mission to preserve, protect, and restore the Escondido Creek watershed. “We wanted to provide a way for people to see the work we do firsthand and learn why protecting natural lands is so crucial for people and wildlife,” says Hannah Walchak, the Conservancy’s Conservation Land Manager.

The Conservancy is partnering with the California Chaparral Institute, Sky Hunters, and Deer Park Monastery to provide an engaging and collaborative outdoor experience for North County residents. Participants will visit locations that are normally only traveled by Conservancy land managers and the paws and hooves of our local wildlife.

The hikes will take place from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on 9/14, 10/19, 11/16, and 12/14. Participants will hear from local experts about our unique habitats and the wildlife that inhabit them, get an up close and personal experience with birds of prey, and learn about the benefits of nature on the human mind and body.

To learn more, or purchase tickets for this hike series, you can log onto www.escondidocreek.org/news/wow. Tickets for sustaining donors start at $100 for all four hikes, and early-bird tickets for the general public start at $175.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Nathan Serrato | Marketing and Volunteer Manager
(760) 703-3393
nathan@escondidocreek.org

Volunteer to Help Preserve North County Land and Provide Outdoor Education!

Volunteer to Help Preserve North County Land and Provide Outdoor Education!

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, CA (August 1, 2019)

Who: The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) is partnering with Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD) to recruit volunteers to help protect Escondido Creek and the Escondido Creek watershed. The Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust. Since 1991, the Conservancy has helped preserve over 4,000 acres of land for wildlife habitat and provides outdoor education to more than 5,000 children and adults annually. OMWD is a public agency providing water, wastewater services, recycled water, hydroelectricity, and the operation of Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (EFRR). The two organizations first partnered in 2009 to build the beautiful Elfin Forest Interpretive Center Honoring Susan J. Varty, and have been working together since then on many watershed protection projects and education programs.

What: Join us at our next Volunteer Open House and discover the many ways you can give back and get in touch with local nature. Volunteers can choose to hike and monitor trails, assist with school field trips, staff the interpretive center, perform trail maintenance with park rangers, or work with the Conservancy’s land managers to restore sensitive habitat.

Why: EFRR is almost 800 acres with only three rangers to monitor the land, while the Conservancy manages over 3,000 acres with a small staff of land managers, supplemented by volunteers. Volunteers are crucial in helping protect and restore these fragile open spaces so plants and wildlife can continue to thrive. Our volunteers have also been a vital part of the Conservancy’s education programs which provide outdoor experiences to local elementary and middle-school students.

Our volunteer network is a community of like-minded people who enjoy backyard barbecues, in-service meetings followed by “Conservation Conversations” on a wide variety of topics, and unique tour opportunities throughout the year. Recent tours include an EDCO Recycling Center, a Native American Eco-Village, and the California Wolf Center.

Where: The Volunteer Open House will be held at EFRR’s Interpretive Center, but volunteer opportunities are available throughout various preserves in Escondido. Limited parking will be reserved for those registered, and arriving early is advised.

When: The Volunteer Open House will be held on Saturday, August 10, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Please visit www.natureiscalling.eventbrite.com for more information or to register.

Giving Back To Nature… and Myself: Elfin Forest Trail Patrol

Next Training on January 19th 9:00am – 12:00pm

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

8833 Harmony Grove Rd

Escondido, CA 92029

Start the new year off with a commitment to give back to mother nature and spend more time outdoors. The Olivenhain Municipal Water District and The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) are recruiting volunteers for their next Trail Patrol Training on January 19th. Trail Patrol volunteers sign up for monthly hikes at the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (EFRR) and the Conservancy’s neighboring preserves to help maintain trails and protect the natural open spaces we love.

“One of my favorite parts of serving on the Trail Patrol is a bit selfish. I sometimes need the motivation to make time for a good hike, so I look forward to my 3-hours-a-month on the Elfin Forest Trail,” says Cindy Pahl, one of our newest volunteers. “At the same time, I love my role as an ‘ambassador’ for Elfin Forest, which feels less selfish and more giving,” Pahl continued. Volunteers get to explore the beautiful, serene trails while assisting visitors and submitting reports to our rangers and land managers.

“When a trail issue is reported by a trail patrol volunteer, rangers quickly respond with action.  This results in greater trail sustainability and a safer recreation experience for our visitors,” says EFRR Park Supervisor, Jeff Anderson. EFRR provides an outdoor recreation area for 150,000 visitors a year. EFRR park rangers and Conservancy land managers heavily rely on trail patrol volunteers to be the eyes and ears for the Reserve and report their observations while on patrol. “Our volunteers help us track where invasive plant infestations need to be addressed, whether preserves are receiving inappropriate human use like fishing, pointing out trails that need repair, and making note of rare or amazing wildlife phenomena!,” says Conservation Land Manager, Hannah Walchak, who helps manage about 2,500 acres of land in the Escondido Creek watershed.

Whether you’re patrolling on foot, mountain bike, or horseback, there is a place on the team for you. Plus, there are many trail options for various mobility levels. And you don’t need to be a wildlife expert to join! We’ll tell you everything you need to know and provide you with your own uniform you can wear as you’re out exploring the trails. Our next training is Saturday, January 19th from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm so don’t wait to sign up! You can register online at https://trailpatrol.eventbrite.com

Race against Time for The Escondido Creek Conservancy to Save Skyline West of Escondido from Development

Sleeping Lady Ridge Above San Elijo Hills-Photo Ron Forster

An opportunity has opened up to preserve the largest tract of remaining undeveloped land along Escondido Creek west of I-15 with the recent purchase agreement obtained by The Escondido Creek Conservancy (TECC) and the property owner. To save Escondido’s skyline from development, TECC is now tasked with finding the multi million purchase price before the agreement expires at the end of this year.

“This spectacular area has been on our wish list for more than fifteen years, said Steve Barker, TECC President. “But only now have all the pieces fallen into place – allowing TECC to lock up the parcels until the end of the year. This gives TECC time to broker a deal that will protect the land for the benefit and enjoyment of all County residents, now and into the future.”  The land, dubbed University Heights on development plans, due to it’s proximity to the California State University of San Marcos, and also known locally as “Sleeping Lady Ridge”, because the silhouette of the land resembles a sleeping woman – consists of 502 acres south of San Marcos and west of Escondido. It takes in the summit, southern slopes and a secluded valley below Mt Whitney, a prominent local high point. This pristine landscape supports the many plants and animals of the chaparral, sage scrub and oak woodland habitats. Located between the trail systems of San Marcos and those of the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve and County of San Diego Parks and Recreation lands, Sleeping Lady Ridge represents a tremendous opportunity for connected outdoor recreation for hikers, bikers and equestrians – without the need for long travel distances.

At least two development schemes have been proposed for the land, with up to 1000 new homes suggested, the most recent ending in foreclosure – opening the door for TECC to preserve this valuable resource permanently. “Access to experiencing nature is an essential part of human happiness and health and TECC envisions these lands becoming part of a regional open space preserve. The close proximity to the densely populated North County Cities of Escondido and San Marcos will allow easy access, perhaps even a trail head at a nearby Sprinter station” Mr. Barker said. TECC’s task now is to assemble a coalition of green minded investors to assist in closing escrow this year. The long term goal is to transfer the acreage to County Parks and Recreation or a similar agency for permanent preservation. “Based on the natural value of this land and the interest by wildlife agencies in its preservation, we are very optimistic that long term permanent preservation is possible. Our critical challenge is to find the supporters for the near-term action to secure the land now” Mr. Barker stated. “All interested in helping out, in any way, no matter how small, should contact the TECC office on (760) 471 9354 or email information@escondidocreek.org or DONATE NOW.

About The Escondido Creek Conservancy
TECC is a local land conservancy which is dedicated to the preservation, enhancement and protection of the natural open space within the Escondido creek watershed. Since 1991 TECC has preserved hundreds of acres of open space through direct purchase or by working in partnership with its members, donors, landowners, government agencies and community groups. For more information visit www.escondidocreek.org.