CBI and San Diego County conservation partners and experts prepared the Montecito Ranch Framework Resources Management Plan to guide management and monitoring of sensitive natural resources in perpetuity on the Montecito Ranch Preserve.
A Framework Resource Management Plan (F-RMP) for the Montecito Ranch Preserve was developed jointly by Jessie Vinje, CBI, Michael White, Endangered Habitats Conservancy (EHC), Steve Montgomery, ECORP Consulting, Inc., and the San Diego Management and Monitoring Program (SDMMP) in coordination with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the U.S. Department of Defense. The F-RMP aligns preserve-level management and monitoring with the regional Management and Monitoring Strategic Plan (MSP Roadmap) for conserved lands in western San Diego County (SDMMP and TNC 2017). The MSP Roadmap provides regional and preserve-level goals and objectives for prioritized species, vegetation communities, and threats, and includes recommendations from regional planning documents. Together with its partners, CBI developed the F-RMP over 2.5-years by compiling and reviewing existing documents, literature, and spatial datasets, conducting rapid assessment surveys for biological resources, and meeting with species and regional experts.
The Preserve is a 955-acre perpetually conserved property located in west-central San Diego County near the town of Ramona. The Preserve is contiguous with the County of San Diego’s Ramona Grasslands County Preserve (Ramona Grasslands) and is located within the original Rancho Valle de Pamo (also called Rancho Santa Maria) Spanish land grant and on historical Kumeyaay land.
Montecito Ranch lies within the North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan (NCMSCP), a draft NCCP area, but was originally slated for development. EHC acquired the 955-acre ranch on June 10,2020, with funding from Section 6 of the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended. Specifically, two habitat conservation plan land acquisition grants associated with the County of San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) were awarded funding for the acquisition of land that complements the MSCP and benefits covered listed and unlisted species. The California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) provided funding including the requisite non-federal matching funds for Section 6 grants and the U.S. Department of Defense provided 50% of the acquisition cost through its Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program, leveraged additional acquisition funding.
Montecito Ranch supports the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), federally endangered San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegoensis) and federally endangered Stephens’ kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) in addition to providing foraging and wintering habitat for raptors including golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos canadensis) and other birds, and habitat for reptiles, amphibians, and mammals including American badger (Taxidea taxus). The Preserve supports vernal pools including the rare southern tarplant (Centromadia parryi subsp. australis), oak woodlands including the rare Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii), grasslands, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral habitats.