ESCONDIDO — The Escondido Creek Conservancy has renamed its 906-acre Los Cielos Preserve in honor of one of their dedicated board members, Elizabeth “Betsy” Keithley.
The Keithley Preserve, in the Elfin Forest area, will now serve as a dedication to the conservation legacy that Keithley has created through her advocacy efforts.
“Betsy has been a force at the conservancy,” said Richard Murphy, board president. “She brought a lifelong passion for the outdoors, protecting open space and habitats to her work. The Keithley Preserve would not have been possible without foresight and action to protect neighboring properties.”
Keithley began her involvement with the conservancy shortly after its founding in 1991 and has been an active board member for the last decade. Having grown up during a time when housing developments were being built in the same open spaces she played in as a child, she quickly realized the value of conservation.
The conservancy’s education programs, which now serve nearly 5,000 students annually, are especially important to her as she’s noticed children don’t have the same access or exposure to nature she had growing up. She hopes that their continued exposure to nature will inspire young people to continue the legacy of conservation for generations to come.
“I believe that human beings are part of the ecosystem, and therefore, dependent on all the other life forms among which we live and interact,” said Keithley. “These species require natural habitats and humans must preserve them. I am grateful that now I have the opportunity to conserve open space for people and animals to enjoy and live in.”
“The Keithley Preserve is home to a number of diverse ecosystems including oak woodlands, chaparral, riparian, and coastal sage scrub which provides habitat for the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher,” said Hannah Walchak, the conservancy’s conservation director. “It’s a jewel of the Elfin Forest area, and only natural we’d rename this after one of our most beloved supporters.”
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