Land purchased to protect California gnatcher

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday approved the purchase of 345 acres of open land for around $5 million to extend trail systems and protect habitat for the California gnatcatcher.

The smaller of two purchases, about 100 acres for the Goodan Ranch Preserve — west of state Route 67 near Poway — is part of an effort to connect trails in the area, according to Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

“The idea is to have that connection between Mission Trails (Regional) Park all the way up through Santee Lakes to Goodan Ranch — that north-south connection,” Jacob said of the $810,000 purchase.

The supervisor said she has been working with the military to allow a public trail to cross the eastern edge of Camp Elliott, which is in the hilly area north of Santee and east of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

According to county staff, the trail connection would also serve as a corridor for wildlife to pass through. The Goodan Ranch property is a “prime habitat” for the gnatcatcher, according to a staff report.

The bird, which was listed as a threatened species in 1993 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also lives in the area of the second acquisition, around 240 acres in the Escondido Creek Preserve near Harmony Grove Road in the North County.

The land is part of a network of preserves that consist of about 1,400 acres.

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, according to the county.

Categories: KUSI