324 Acres Added to San Diego NWR (CA)

SAN DIEGO, 4/1/04- The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation group, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced today the purchase and protection of 324 acres as the newest addition to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. The public purchase of the $4,540,000 property is particularly significant to the USFWS because it directly links the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Otay Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Funds for the purchase of the Smith property came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) with the strong support of the California Congressional delegation. Created by Congress in 1965, the program provides money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. Through LWCF, the federal government reinvests receipts from outer continental shelf oil and gas exploration into the protection of nationally significant resource lands like the Smith property.

“The purchase of this land for the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge is another step forward in protecting our natural resources for the future,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “I have long supported the refuge’s preservation of wilderness areas and protection of wildlife, and I am pleased to see this acquisition become a reality.”

“The protection of the Smith property protects thousands of acres of contiguous open space not only for threatened and endangered wildlife, but for the thousands of people who move every year to San Diego County’s suburban fringe to enjoy the area’s magnificent outdoors,” said Reed Holderman, Executive Director for the Trust for Public Land-California.

“The acquisition of the Smith property is very important to the growth of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. It connects two large, important wildlife areas and allows us to work in partnership with BLM and other partners for the benefit wildlife and local residents.” said Mendel Stewart, Project Leader for the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The property’s grassy slopes and ridgelines offer views of the east end of Otay Lake and surrounding residential communities. The property in the southern portion of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge was part of “Village 15,” one of several large residential developments that have been proposed inside refuge boundaries.

This is TPL’s eighth project in the 44,000-acre San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. Since 1996 TPL has protected almost 6,000 acres in the refuge, along with over 2,300 acres in the BLM wildlife management area next door. The Smith property links these two important wildlife areas.

The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to preserving land of recreational, ecological, and historical value for the public. TPL works with local, state, and federal agencies and grassroots community groups to protect open space nationwide. Since it’s founding in 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.9 million acres valued at more than $3.5 billion nationwide. In San Diego County, TPL has protected more than 28,000 acres since 1985.