Open space campaign aims to protect wildlife corridor
By Adrienne Fuller / Hellhole Canyon
Their goal? Make sure wildlife has the room to roam and reproduce.
The whole preserve, a nearly 2,000-acre park located on the east side of Valley Center, is a pristine chaparral ecosystem home to many endangered and threatened species. The park is owned and managed by San Diego County Parks and Recreation, and welcomes hikers and equestrians to enjoy its trails.
More open space than park, the Preserve is part of a patchwork of large habitats that make up north county San Diego. Wildlife currently moves between tracts of land such as the Cleveland National Forest, Palomar Mountain, property incorporated under the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of California, and the Rancho Guejito, a privately owned ranch that spans 23,000 acres east of Escondido. Hellhole Canyon is a centerpiece connecting them all.
Protecting the Wildlife Corridor
“Wildlife need bigger areas than what we have set aside for them,” says Board President Joaquin Aganza. “They can travel long distances to find food, water, and most importantly, mates. Often, this means they must cross roads, fences and other development to get to where they need to go, with often fatal results.”
As shown on a recent CBS 60 Minutes segment we can see the effects of genetic isolation playing out further north, where Los Angeles highways have forced mountain lions to inbreed in the Santa Monica Mountains. Isolation can devastate the genetic viability of a species and can lead to extinction.
The 400 acres driving the capital campaign lie between the Hellhole Canyon Preserve, BLM land and the Rancho Guejito, and creates a corridor for wildlife to travel without impediments.
Party for the Preserve
To initiate the campaign, the Friends of Hellhole Canyon are hosting an art auction and wine tasting at Melrose Ranch, a historic estate nestled in the hills above Escondido.
There will be a gourmet buffet, live music, and a celebration of conservation, as well as the chance to acquire a significant piece of art and insure that future generations will be able to access intact ecosystems populated with the wonderful creatures that share our beautiful Southern California landscape.
Important artists who have donated work include the locally revered Joe Garcia, an artist famous for his depictions of San Diego landscapes and wildlife; Stan Goudey, a watercolorist and oil painter who captures the beauty of California; and Alex Long, a potter famed for his large raku-style of pottery.
The event will be held on November 6, from noon to 5 p.m. To purchase your tickets (it’s recommended to buy early) please visit hellholecanyon.org/art.
About the Friends of Hellhole Canyon: Formed in 2000, The Friends is a group of volunteers who work to protect and steward critical habitat in the Valley Center/Pauma Valley area.
We educate the public on the natural wonders that comprise the Preserve. We encourage the appreciation of the canyon by showing visitors how they can enjoy this chaparral treasure. We also work to acquire and conserve ecologically important open space, which enhances and expands the Preserve’s conservation footprint. We identify key parcels for acquisition based on proximity to the Preserve and ecological importance.
Our goal is to continue to educate the public on this natural treasure and protect it for our recreation and the wildlife that live there for generations to come.