County Board of Supervisors approve 345 acres land purchase

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego County Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval Wednesday to the purchase of about 345 acres of open land for around $5 million to protect habitat for the California gnatcatcher.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the acquisition would “help preserve important habitat” as part of the county’s Multi-Species Conservation Program.

About 240 acres is in the Escondido Creek Preserve near Harmony Grove Road, which is part of a network of preserves that consist of about 1,400 acres.

The area is a California gnatcatcher habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the bird as a threatened species in 1993 due to development of its habitat.

In addition to the $4 million purchase price, about $300,000 will be spent on surveys, installing signs, erosion control, vegetation management and staff salaries.

The rest of the open space, about 100 acres, is part of the Goodan Ranch Preserve, west of state Route 67 near Poway. The land, also a gnatcatcher habitat, was appraised at $810,000, and about a quarter of the cost will be covered by a state Habitat Conservation Fund grant.

“It will also provide a suitable connection for the trans-county trail and future trails for the city of Poway,” Jacob said of the Goodan Ranch land.

The trans-county trail is a series of walking paths that run between Torrey Pines State Beach and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The county is working with five other agencies to connect the trail’s various segments.

A final hearing on the land purchases is scheduled for Dec. 3.

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