Biological Monitoring on the Crestridge Ecological Reserve and South Crest Properties, San Diego County, CA
The Crestridge Ecological Reserve (CER) and the South Crest properties in San Diego County, California form a core block of habitat that serves as a landscape linkage between the northern and southern parts of the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) area. Thus, management of these properties is critical to resources on other conserved lands, including the Cleveland National Forest, the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, and McGinty Mountain and Sycuan Peak Ecological Reserves. The CER supports mature riparian woodlands, coast live oak and Engelmann oak woodlands, coastal sage scrub, grassland, and at least 24 sensitive species, including the federally and state endangered San Diego thornmint, the federally threatened California gnatcatcher, and largest known population of the regionally endemic Lakeside ceanothus. South Crest supports gabbro-derived soils and habitat for over 50 sensitive species, including the state rare Dehesa beargrass. Both CER and South Crest are threatened by invasive plant species, unauthorized off-road vehicle use, uncontrolled access, illegal dumping, and erosion. In addition, the majority of both properties burned in the 2003 Cedar Fire.
The Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) is working with project partners (San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), Endangered Habitats Conservancy, Earth Discovery Institute, and Soil Ecology and Restoration Group) to address the most pressing management issues on these properties. Project manager and lead biologist Patricia Gordon-Reedy has completed baseline mapping for covered and invasive plant species on both properties and is conducting risk assessments that will be used to formulate long-term management and monitoring strategies, including prioritization of invasive species for control and development of an early detection invasive control plan. This project also has land management and public education/outreach components; specific tasks include coordination with law enforcement regarding access and encroachment issues, establishing a volunteer citizen patrol, gate and fencing improvements, garbage removal, erosion control, signage, and public education/outreach.