New Life for Miniature Wetland Wonders
The Chaparral Lands Conservancy proposes a project to restore and enhance imperiled vernal pools and species in Proctor Valley inside a regional habitat preserve on City of San Diego Public Utilities Department watershed and other conserved lands.
Manicured subdivisions in eastern Chula Vista hide a natural secret – In fact many little wetland secrets. Just a little further east from where Proctor Valley Road narrows from 4 lanes to a dirt road there is a sweeping natural landscape evocative of Old California. Undeveloped Proctor Valley is bordered by scenic San Miguel Mountain and the Jamul Mountains, and the valley forms a natural separation between City of Chula Vista subdivisions and the rural San Diego County unincorporated community of Jamul.
Extensive property owned by several agencies forms a crucial conservation core area under the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) and is a critical element of natural infrastructure in the communities of eastern Chula Vista and Jamul. The City of San Diego Utilities Department owns and protects watershed lands for the Upper Otay Reservoir. Other large properties are a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, the California Department of Fish and Game’s Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve, and the planned Otay Ranch Preserve.
The majority of vegetation found in the valley is unique and imperiled – Coastal sage scrub, vernal pools, native grasslands, and chaparral. These unique habitats in turn support numerous rare species, several of which like the California gnatcatcher, Quino checkerspot butterfly, San Diego fairy shrimp, and San Diego coyote thistle are federally listed endangered species.
Over the last several years dedicated agency employees and volunteers have worked diligently to improve resource conditions in Proctor Valley by patrolling the area, installing fencing, cleaning up trash, and installing signs. The City and other agencies have been particularly successful in reducing major past illegal off-road vehicle activity and have recently installed effective vehicle barriers along much of the length of Proctor Valley Road.
Yet there is still an outstanding unfulfilled need in Proctor Valley to improve the condition of several imperiled species and habitats that were impacted by activities that occurred prior to establishment of preserve areas and to fulfill the goals of the MSCP for covered species. In cooperation with the City of San Diego and other agency preserve managers, The Chaparral Lands Conservancy proposes to address this need with a project to restore and enhance vernal pools and dependent species and watersheds including nearby degraded coastal sage scrub.
The Proposed Proctor Valley Vernal Pool Restoration Project
The proposed Proctor Valley Vernal Pool Restoration Project would address two important opportunities to improve the status of imperiled habitats and species in Proctor Valley.
First, vernal pools in Proctor Valley are located in flat areas very close to Proctor Valley Road and, as a result have been degraded by vehicle activity for years. One important vernal pool area has been nearly denuded following use as an ORV staging area. Weeds have colonized degraded areas formerly covered with coastal sage scrub, native grasslands, and remarkable living soil crusts. Under the restoration project, degraded vernal pools would be expanded, recontoured, or otherwise enhanced, new basins would be created, and surrounding watersheds and vegetation restored, all to improve habitat conditions and enhance populations of at least seven imperiled vernal pool species, the San Diego fairy shrimp, Western spadefoot toad, little mousetail, San Diego coyote thistle, spreading navarretia, and toothed calicoflower.
Coastal sage scrub is another imperiled habitat in Proctor Valley that has been harmed by past vehicle activity, grazing, and unnaturally frequent wildfire. The Vernal Poolrestoration project would enhance degraded coastal sage scrub in vernal pool watersheds through weeding and plantings for the benefit of endangered and MSCP covered species like the Burrowing owl, California gnatcatcher, Orange-throated whiptail lizard, San Diego cactus wren, San Diego horned lizard, Orcutt’s brodiaea, Otay tarplant, and others as well as to minimize erosion into vernal pools and the Upper Otay Reservoir.
Request for Endorsement & Support
The Chaparral Lands Conservancy respectfully requests endorsement and support for the Proctor Valley Vernal Pool Restoration Project by conservation groups, community groups, planning groups, homeowner’s associations, elected officials, community leaders, and others. The Conservancy has retained expert ecologists to prepare a detailed plan for the restoration project. The plan is the first step in an overall strategy to seek and secure funding and to carry out the actual restoration activities in 2011 – 2013.
Preparation of the detailed plan for the Proctor Valley Vernal Pool Restoration Project has been made possible by the San Diego Foundation’s Environmental Endowment Fund and the Land & Watershed Conservation Fund and the Center for Biological Diversity.
For more information on the Proctor Valley Vernal Pool Restoration Project or The Chaparral Lands Conservancy, please contact David Hogan, director.