EHL’s sister land trust, Endangered Habitats Conservancy (EHC), completed a major coastal sage scrub acquisition, which received media coverage.
EHC has been patiently assembling the many tenuous linkages upon which the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) depends. Its latest success is a large 410-acre block of land called Lakeside Downs that has both connectivity and core habitat value for the MSCP. It shelters an important population of California gnatcatchers and the redberry host plant for the endangered Hermes copper butterfly.
The property, which is in the Lakeside community south and east of the City of Santee, and near the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, was previously approved for 140 homes. One half of the funds were contributed by the Department of Defense under its Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program and the other half from the San Diego Association of Governments’ TransNet program, which continues to pay enormous dividends to the region. EHC will manage the property.
EHL San Diego Director and EHC President Michael Beck was quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune (“Officials Announce Effort To Preserve Lakeside Land,” Oct. 13, 2015). "Conservation of this property is very important strategically," said Michael Beck, executive officer at the Endangered Habitats Conservancy. "We all share a responsibility to preserve the unique natural resources and landscapes of our home, but it is not really ours. We are temporary caretakers."
KPBS, public broadcasting in San Diego, also covered the story, and turned to Beck for comment on the property’s importance for the gnatcatcher and its coastal sage scrub ecosystem. Michael Beck with the Endangered Habitats Conservancy said at least 80 percent of the gnatcatcher’s habitat is gone. "It doesn't exist anymore and what's left is very fragmented," Beck said. "There are very few core areas that support gnatcatchers and a number of other species that are endemic to this community."
EHL congratulates the Conservancy and expresses deep appreciation to the landowners, Helix 1960 and the Helix Land Company, and to SANDAG, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy.