Slowly, “core areas” for the California gnatcatcher and other coastal sage scrub species are being pieced together south of Carlsbad and north of Murrieta.

Back in 1995, when the coastal sage scrub was lost in Carlsbad through the Fieldstone Habitat Conservation Plan, EHL ensured that commitments were made by the City to protect land between Carlsbad and Lake Hodges through its own city-wide conservation plan. These commitments were carried forward to the regional Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP) and are complemented by San Diego County’s pending North County MSCP.

With mitigation via Carlsbad, state and federal financial contributions, funds steadily allocated by San Diego Supervisors from the County General Fund, and key support from the San Diego Assoc. of Government’s TransNet program, the long-sought “Gnatcatcher core area” is falling into place. The latest addition – Sage Hills, a spectacular 250-acre property that also boasts a running stream and fine riparian habitat – was acquired with EHL support.

In Riverside County, land previously approved for housing development – the 454-acre Winchester 700 property near Murrieta – was purchased by the Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) for the Western Riverside County MSHCP. It is rare low elevation habitat for California gnatcatchers and the quino checkerspot butterfly. EHL will work to add land to the north to complete the French Valley core area.