Conservation Significance of Rancho Guejito, the Jewel of San Diego County
This document provides an introduction to the intersecting cultural and biological conservation
values of Rancho Guejito—its cultural history, rare biological resources, its ecological functions
within surrounding conserved areas, its significance to past, present, and future generations of
Californians—and a plea for conservation of the irreplaceable values it supports, the loss of
which cannot be mitigated elsewhere:
- Rancho Guejito represents a geographical and cultural bridge between the coastal and mountain settlement patterns of Indians. The oaks and grasslands represented on the hills and valleys of Rancho Guejito provided sufficient resources to support large populations of different Indian groups.
- The cultural legacy of Rancho Guejito, and the natural resources that are intertwined in this legacy, are preserved to a remarkable degree, undisturbed in their original natural setting and context, providing significant research and interpretive opportunities, as well as a captivating story of our past.
- Rancho Guejito is the last remaining intact Mexican land grant and retains a historical landscape representing the earliest ranching in Southern California. The historic features and sites remain relatively untouched and still within their original setting, providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for research, education, and interpretation.
- Nestled in the foothills of the Peninsular Ranges, Rancho Guejito is an ecological gateway to the high elevation habitats of the Cleveland National Forest—representing both a linkage to lower elevation coastal habitats and a landscape critical to supporting ecosystem functions and wilderness values of existing conservation investments.
- Rancho Guejito is part of a large ecological core area, whose integrity is essential to maintaining ecological processes that vegetation and wildlife communities depend on, such as natural hydrological and fire regimes, which require large landscapes to function.
- High integrity watersheds on Rancho Guejito support intact hydrologic processes and high water quality, which are crucial to the long-term viability of existing conservation investments in the San Pasqual Valley. Guejito Creek on the property supports designated Critical Habitat for a population of the endangered arroyo toad.
- Ranch Guejito supports a diverse assemblage of over 20 vegetation communities, including many communities not well protected in the ecoregion, such as oak savannas, grasslands, alkali meadows, and vernal pools, and some of the largest individual trees and largest stands of Engelmann oak woodlands in San Diego County.
- The large expanse of rolling grasslands on Rancho Guejito supports at least 16 different raptor species and one of the largest remaining populations of the endangered Stephens’ kangaroo rat. Rancho Guejito could play a critical role in the persistence and recovery of this imperiled species, because its population represents a unique genetic legacy.
- In its location at the urban-wildland interface, Rancho Guejito provides unique aesthetic recreational, educational, and spiritual opportunities for millions of people living in Southern California and represents an opportunity to protect quality of life in the face of rapid land use changes. These values have already been lost in much of Southern California and western San Diego County and can never be restored.
CBI Authors & Contributors
Jerre Ann Stallcup, M.A.
Chief Resources Officer