Conservation Significance of Rancho Guejito
In 1974, the California Department of Parks and Recreation studied the feasibility of acquiring Rancho Guejito in San Diego County and developing it into a unit of the State Park system. The conclusion of that study was that Rancho Guejito should be acquired, as it would preserve highly significant biotic, geologic, cultural, and scenic values as well as the only remaining intact Mexican land grant in Southern California. Furthermore, conservation would offer the residents of Southern California a living ranch interpretive experience and outdoor recreation opportunities in the mid-elevation ecosystems of the Peninsular Ranges in Southern California, which are inadequately represented in public parks and reserves (California State Parks 1974).
Unfortunately, the acquisition did not happen at that time, but the gate to an unexplored landscape was opened for a glimpse of the natural and cultural resources that have remained sequestered undisturbed for thousands of years. Since that time, the story of Rancho Guejito has grown to legendary status among biologists and archaeologists in Southern California, as the conservation jewel of San Diego County. In the early 1990s, the gate to Rancho Guejito was opened again, for biological and archaeological investigations related to a proposed emergency storage water reservoir in Guejito Valley.
Enormous federal, state, and local investments have been made in the acquisition and conservation of natural lands, as witnessed by our National Forests, State Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) programs like the Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) in San Diego County.
Conservation and interpretation of both the natural and cultural environments, in an intact, natural setting, will enable a new synthesis of science-based habitat management and traditional ecological knowledge that is critical to maintaining our existing and growing network of conserved lands. Conservation of the natural and cultural resources at Rancho Guejito, in an intact, natural setting—between the coastal mesas of the NCCP reserves and the foothills and mountains of the National Forest lands—will allow us to begin realizing this vision.