Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Supervisors approve acquisition of Mount Olympus addition

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement to acquire a 37.8-acre site in Pala which will be added to the Mount Olympus Preserve.

The supervisors’ 5-0 vote September 17 approved a real property contract to purchase the site from the Lavonne A. Lauderbaugh Trust for the appraised value of $416,000 and approved an easement purchase agreement between the county and the US Department of the Navy in which the Navy will pay the county $208,000 for that easement.

The supervisors also found that the transfer to preserve open space and natural habitat was categorically exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review.

“I’m very pleased. Our whole department is very pleased,” said county Department of Parks and Recreation assistant director Brian Albright. “It’s just another example of a great partnership.”

Mount Olympus separates Rainbow from Pala, and the draft North County Multiple Species Conservation Program includes the land as a preserve both for its sensitive species such as the Rainbow Manzanita and for its value as a linkage and corridor for animals, including large animals such as deer, mountain lion, coyote and bobcat.

Because of the corridor linkage value of the Mount Olympus Preserve area, the site in Pala has been considered suitable for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) buffer zone program.

The DOD’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative allows branches of the military to enter into agreements with eligible entities to share the costs of acquiring real property in the vicinity of military installations.

The purpose of the program is to limit development which is incompatible with military activities, and although the Pala site is not adjacent to Camp Pendleton its value as a wildlife linkage corridor benefits the base’s environmental protection program.

An August 6 Board of Supervisors vote authorized the encroachment protection agreement with the Department of the Navy, which handles real estate services for the Marine Corps, and also set the September 17 hearing date to acquire the parcel.

The easement agreement ensures that the property will not be developed and also restricts uses of the property to those which are compatible with Camp Pendleton operations.

“We’re sharing in the cost and we’re both going to benefit from this acquisition,” Albright said. “I hope this is the first of more to come.”

The Department of Parks and Recreation reviewed the easement and determined that it would not prohibit open space and non-motorized trails on the property.

In addition to funding half of the purchase cost, the County of San Diego will also pay $3,200 for title and escrow fees, $8,500 for staff costs to complete the transaction and $38,000 for one-time stewardship costs to cover vegetation management, gates, signage and erosion control.

The county’s $257,700 share was funded from budgeted Multiple Species Conservation Program acquisition appropriations.

The county will subsequently be responsible for long-term management and maintenance of the property. Ongoing stewardship and monitoring costs are currently estimated at $5,700 annually.

No additional county staff will be necessary as the result of the 37.8-acre purchase, which increases the total Mount Olympus preserve area to approximately 750 acres, although continued acquisition of property for the MSCP program might create the need for additional oversight staff in the future.

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