COAST CITIES — Nearly 150 acres of land in different parts of San Diego County have been acquired recently by SANDAG for open space conservation. The land purchases cost a total of $6.7 million and are intended to offset environmental impacts from road projects, such as the expansion of State Route 76.
The acquisitions include:
— 80.3 acres in Jeffries Ranch in eastern Oceanside acquired by SANDAG for $4 million.
This parcel is the last large vacant property in the Jeffries Ranch area. At one point, the site was proposed for a 51-unit residential development. Located near the San Luis Rey River south of SR 76, it is home to rare plants and endangered birds. Acquisition of the site promotes regional conservation of habitats around the river. It will also help to bring additional conservation resources into the region by serving as a match for funds from the California Wildlife Conservation Board.
— 37.3 acres in Bonsall acquired by SANDAG for $1.42 million.
This is part of an 82.8-acre property that SANDAG and the City of Oceanside jointly purchased. Located along SR 76 at Via Monserate and Gird Road, the entire property is within the 100-year floodplain of the San Luis Rey River. The land encompasses cottonwood riparian woodland, developing riparian scrub, riverine flow through wetland, open sand, and non-native grassland. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the preservation of the property would contribute to the recovery of the arroyo toad, least Bell’s vireo, and other sensitive species found in the San Luis Rey River corridor.
—31.4 acres in Carmel Valley acquired by SANDAG for $1.27 million.
Located south of State Route 56 and north of Del Mar Mesa, this site is fallow agricultural ground, which will be restored to riparian habitat to attract the endangered least Bell’s vireo. An adjacent parcel has already been successfully restored and is now supporting the bird. The new acquisition will expand on this effort.
Money for the open space purchases came from the 40-year extension of the regional TransNet half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2004. As part of the TransNet extension, SANDAG created the Environmental Mitigation Program (EMP) to preserve and restore native habitats to compensate for disturbances caused by regional and local transportation projects.