Final Planning Update - August 2021

I am pleased to announce the completion of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). The CCP will guide Refuge management over the next 15 years, resulting in actions to benefit wildlife, habitat, and public use. The CCP was finalized only after careful consid­eration of public input, including the many detailed comments received on the draft CCP/Environmental Assessment (EA), as well as from participants of meetings held to address issues related to hunting, trails, and protection of species and habitat.

The Final CCP is available online at: A hard copy of the Final CCP has also been provided to the Reference Librarians at both the County of San Diego’s Bonita Sunnyside Library (4375 Bonita Road, Bonita, CA 91902) and Rancho San Diego Library (11555 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon, CA 92019).

Addressed in the Final CCP are actions that, subject to available funding and staffing, will help to support the endangered and threatened species that the Refuge was established to conserve. Proposed actions will also contribute to the implementation of the regional Multiple Species Conservation Program through the protection of the Refuge’s existing biological diversity, habitat restoration, monitoring and control of invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
, rare plant and animal surveys, and species reintroduction actions. The CCP also includes an Integrated Pest Manage­ment Plan and a Feral Pig Monitoring and Eradication Plan, should actions to control feral pigs become an issue on the Refuge. 

In addition, various public uses are identified for implementation within the CCP, including a trail plan that will ensure the protection of sensitive species and their associated habitats, while also meeting the public’s desire for an interconnected system of trails that includes connections to the regional trail network where legal access is available. The CCP also proposes hunting on 160 acres located to the east of Lower Otay Lake on Refuge lands that abut other State and federal lands open to hunting. Opening this area of the Refuge for hunting will occur after completion of a step-down hunt plan, a process that will include additional public input and coordination with adjacent public land managers. The Del Mar Mesa Vernal Pool Unit will continue to be managed in coordination with the City of San Diego and other land managers in accordance with the approved management plan for the Del Mar Mesa Preserve.

The Final CCP also includes changes made to the preferred alternative described in the draft EA in response to public input. These changes are described in detail in Final CCP and summarized below.

  • The proposal to develop a vernal pool interpretive trail near the southwest end of the Refuge was deleted to avoid the potential for adverse effects to listed species and sensitive habitat.
  • To avoid adverse effects related to parking, traffic safety, and sensitive species, the proposed parking lot/trail staging area and associated trail access route off Sloane Canyon Road in the vicinity of Model A Ford Lane is not included in selected action.
  • Based on public comments and an intensive onsite evaluation of existing trails and suggested trail routes, a trail system has been included within the Final CCP, eliminating the need to complete a subsequent step-down trail plan. The trail plan also includes proposals for some additional trails once legal access from adjacent properties onto the Refuge has been acquired.   

Many partners have already stepped up to help with public use improvements, including constructing a sustainable trail that provides a safer and more conservation-friendly route to the top of Mother Miguel Mountain. We appreciate the significant funding provided by the San Diego Association of Governments and value the collaboration with San Diego Mountain Biking Association, Bonita Bikers, Bonita Valley Horsemen, and Earth Discovery Institute, as well as the hard work provided by so many independent volunteers. Everyone’s participation was essential to the completion of this important trail project.

Thank you to everyone who commented on the draft CCP/EA. We look forward to working with you as we implement the actions out­lined in the CCP.

Dwane Binns

Refuge Manager