Village News Reporter
The County of San Diego will be applying for a grant to expand Mount Olympus Preserve.
A 4-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote June 29, with Terra Lawson-Remer absent, authorized the director of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation or his designee to submit the necessary documents to apply for Habitat Conservation Fund grants for Mount Olympus and for Kumeyaay Valley Park in Lakeside. The Department of Parks and Recreation director was also authorized to complete all documents necessary to accept the grant funding if it is awarded. The two acquisitions were also both found to be categorically exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review. The Mount Olympus Preserve acquisition would add 460 acres to the preserve.
Mount Olympus separates Pala from Rainbow, and the draft North County Multiple Species Program includes the land as a preserve both for its sensitive species such as the Rainbow Manzanita and Englemann Oak and for its value as a linkage and corridor for animals, including large animals such as deer, mountain lion, coyote, and bobcat. The preserve currently totals 836 acres.
The State of California annually allocates $2 million of competitive Habitat Conservation Fund grants to local governments. The grants may be used to acquire or develop wildlife corridors or trails, protect plant and animal species, or provide for nature interpretation programs and they may also be used for activities which bring urban residents into park and wildlife areas. The Habitat Conservation Fund program requires grant recipients to provide a 50% match.
The proposed 460-acre addition to Mount Olympus Preserve would acquire land to preserve mountain lion and mule deer habitat in a confirmed mountain lion corridor. If the county is able to acquire the property, management of the additional 460 acres would be undertaken by existing Department of Parks and Recreation staff.
The grant for Kumeyaay Valley Park would not add any land but would be used for invasive plant species treatment. The Department of Parks and Recreation reviewed six sites before choosing Mount Olympus and Kumeyaay Valley Park for the grant applications. One of the other four sites is also within the Mount Olympus-Cleveland National Forest mountain lion corridor, but the lack of a willing seller eliminated that potential 40-acre acquisition.