Climate Action Plan - Measure T-1.1

 Open Space Conservation

The County preserves San Diego’s unique, native habitats and wildlife biodiversity for future generations through the County’s Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP). The County uses the MSCP program to acquire land and place it into permanent conservation. This removes the threat of future development, the loss of critical habitat, and reduces the emissions that would have occurred if the land were developed.
  • 2020 Target: Acquire 2,622 acres
  • 2030 Target: Acquire 6,992 acres

Cumulative Total of Open Space Land Acquired

How are we doing? 

Since 2014, the County has acquired 8,766 acres of open space, exceeding the 2030 goal by 1,774 acres. The County meets goals and climate action targets by coordinating with land acquisition partners to acquire, manage, and monitor preserved lands while also engaging the public in education about the value of these exceptional resources. In 2021, a total of 1,022 acres of open space was preserved, leading to the expansion of both Simon County Preserve and Ramona Grasslands County Preserve. Additionally, this effort resulted in the creation of two new preserves, Hidden Meadows County Preserve and Paradise Mountain County Preserve.
Through acquisitions, the County works to restore and enhance habitat of the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly and conduct studies on species such as the Pallid bat, Townsend's Big-Eared bat, eagles, and raptors to inform management decisions. Through active restoration projects such as at the 1.4-acre El Monte Park in 2016, native plant species including the San Diego sunflower, coyote brush, California lilac and three types of sage were propagated and are now thriving.
The Department of Parks and Recreation implements environmental education through Discovery Programs, Cub Scout and Girl Scout nature hikes, and Hey Pollinator! Programs. In 2019, the County received an achievement award from the National Association of Counties for the Old Survey Road Trail User Video and Self-Issued Permits program. The program was created to allow more visitors and still protect the trail, which is part of the Ramona Grasslands County Preserve. In 2020, the County received a National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials award for the Women in the Wild Program designed to teach outdoor skills in a fun, nurturing, and non-competitive environment. In 2021, Ramona Grasslands County Preserve was accessed 749 times by visitors with permits.

How is this measured?

Acquisition of land by the County supports Climate Action Plan goals by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the preservation of land that could otherwise be developed. Emissions reductions occur by avoiding the transportation, energy use, waste, and water consumption associated with development for residential or commercial purposes. For example, conserving 6,992 acres of open space land by 2030 is equivalent to avoiding emissions from 491 dwelling units.

Why is this important?

San Diego county hosts one of the most diverse habitats for plants and animals with the highest number of species considered rare or endangered in the United States. Preservation of land within the unincorporated county helps connect habitat and wildlife migration corridors, protect watersheds, improve ecosystem health, preserve vegetation, and also sequester carbon. After acquisition, programs are put in place to manage, maintain, and monitor the plant and animal life as part of a preserve to ensure species are flourishing, healthy, and thriving.

Where are we going?

The Department of Parks and Recreation is committed to restoring and enhancing our open space. Preservation is targeted within habitat areas with high biological value. The County will actively maintain, manage, and monitor open space and provide recreational opportunities for a growing San Diego. Specifically, the County plans to add the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly to the list of species covered by the MSCP Plan for the South County Subarea. The County will use data gathered in a three-year study on eagle and raptor foraging activities to inform management decisions for the Ramona Grasslands Preserve.
Ramona Grasslands Virtual Hike
Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Campground
Butterflies are Thriving at Lindo Lake County Park