Strategic land acquisitions are putting in place connections for deer and mountain lion, overcoming highways and residential sprawl.

The San Diego MSCP Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) was adopted in 1996 as mitigation for transportation projects and other development and to preserve the natural environment for its own sake. However, major parts of the intended reserve system were not yet acquired and protected, including tenuous but essential wildlife corridors near the East County communities of Alpine, Harbison Canyon, and Crest (see map).

Back in 2000, had EHL had kickstarted preserve assembly in the region with acquisition of 2,500 acres of prime habitat otherwise poised for housing tracts, now the California Department of Fish and Game’s Crestridge Ecological Reserve. Subsequently, EHL’s sister land trust – the Endangered Habitats Conservancy, or EHC – was formed, and it has taken the lead on the painstaking assembly of the linkages surrounding Crestridge.

So far, fourteen additional properties have been purchased, one as small as 12 acres and in total comprising about 940 acres. Many parcels were under eminent threat of development. EHC has identified approximately 1,000 more acres to fully assemble the linkages. A major goal is to allow terrestrial wildlife to cross the barrier of Interstate 8.

Funding for this initiative has come via public and private partnerships, including more than $17 million in state, federal, and local habitat acquisition programs. Support for EHC’s work on the transactions has come from the California Wildlife Foundation, The Orca Fund, The San Diego Foundation’s Environment Program, and private donors.

The promise of the MSCP to put in place an interconnected reserve system will only be realized with continued hard work and partnership, but we are making steady progress.