After years of preparatory work, San Diego County released a draft plan for a reserve system of 114,000 acres within this already fragmented landscape. EHL is seeking many improvements to the plan and is working proactively on land acquisitions.

The North County contains the San Luis Rey River, the magnificent 21,000-acre Rancho Guejito, a core population of California gnatcatchers, and a vibrant farm economy. It has also been devastated by dispersed estate lot subdivision on a vast scale, leaving few opportunities for ecosystem conservation. Like similar regional plans, the North County Multiple Species Conservation Program (NC MSCP) is designed to streamline development in less sensitive locations while recovering endangered species. It is unique in integrating agricultural lands as corridors and buffers.

In extensive comments, EHL has criticized proposed exemptions, low mitigation ratios, the lack of specific objectives for key biological areas, and other problems. Nevertheless, we are committed to the success of the effort and are encouraged by many ongoing acquisitions. For example, the raptor-rich Ramona Grasslands are close to assembly, and the beautiful Sage Hills property south of Carlsbad, with high quality coastal sage scrub and wetlands, was recently protected.

Over the coming weeks, EHL will meet with wildlife agency and County staff, and continue to work with other members of the NC MSCP Advisory Committee.