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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
CARLSBAD FWO: Ramona Grasslands and Monte Vista Ranch Acquired for San Diego County’s Multiple Species Conservation Plan
Region 8, March 3, 2009
Ramona Grasslands, San Diego County, California Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy
Ramona Grasslands, San Diego County, California Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy - Photo Credit: n/a

by Stephanie Weagley & Mary Beth Woulfe, Carlsbad FWO

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (FWO) staff have worked diligently over the past one and half years with a variety of partnerships to acquire 5,486 acres of land and conserve the Ramona Grasslands and Monte Vista Ranch. The acquisition supports the area’s biological diversity and provides for long-term protection and management of species and habitat for the San Diego County Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) in southwestern San Diego County, California.

 

Every partner involved in the acquisition was invaluable to the success of the conservation effort. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was instrumental in working with the County of San Diego and local landowners within the community of Ramona to develop the vision for the Ramona Grassland Preserve and the Monte Vista Ranch acquisition. Other partners included the Wildlife Conservation Board, California Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, Region 8, and State Coastal Conservancy.

 

“This acquisition is a result of successful partnerships, strategic habitat conservation, and regional planning to conserve the heritage of the Ramona Grasslands and Monte Vista Ranch,” said Section 6 Coordinator Mary Beth Woulfe. “The San Diego MCSP provided us the ability to compete for this grant and the matching funds from partners resulted in the permanent conservation of land for the benefit of species and future generations. “We used all aspects of the Endangered Species Act to achieve on the ground conservation for the benefit of listed species.”

 

In May of 2007, the CFWO was awarded a $23.1 million grant through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund to acquire vital habitat benefiting numerous threatened and endangered species. Our partners provided matching funds in excess of 60 percent to help complete these acquisitions. By the close of 2008, the majority of funds were spent and 5,486 acres of Ramona Grasslands and Monte Vista Ranch were acquired creating a permanent habitat reserve in association with the San Diego MSCP.

 

 

Authorized under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund distributed funds through the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Land Acquisition Grant Program. This program was established to help reduce potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land use.

 

Under the HCP Land Acquisition Program, the Service provides grants to states and territories for land acquisition associated with approved HCPs. The grants help non-Federal landowners undertake conservation efforts on their lands to conserve imperiled species and habitats.

 

The Ramona Grassland and Monte Vista Ranch acquisition complement the County of San Diego’s MSCP reserve design by conserving core habitat areas and securing key regional wildlife linkages. These areas consist of coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodlands, grasslands, riparian habitat, and vernal wetlands that constitute an exceptional concentration of regionally and globally significant resources. This grant also complements previous Section 6 acquisitions in the general area.

 

Many of the wildlife and plants found on these lands are federally listed. They include: coastal California gnatcatcher, least Bell’s vireo, southwestern willow flycatcher, Stephen’s kangaroo rat, arroyo toad, San Diego fairy shrimp, Riverside fairy shrimp, San Diego ambrosia, San Diego thornmint, San Diego button celery, and spreading navarretia. 

 

Through cooperative conservation efforts with tenacious partners and landscape-level conservation and planning, successful natural resource conservation can be achieved in perpetuity and enjoyed by all.

 

The San Diego MSCP was developed in concert with the State of California’s Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) program, and is designed to balance urban growth in California while protecting fish, wildlife, and plants. The MSCP is a form of strategic habitat conservation planning and covers southwestern San Diego County from the San Dieguito River Valley to Mexico, and eastward from the Pacific Ocean to national forest lands. 

 

 

 

Contact Info: Stephanie Weagley, 805-644-1766, stephanie_weagley@fws.gov