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San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy grants to be applied to Rancho Santa Fe area project

The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC) has recently been awarded three grants totaling $143,990. These grants will be applied to the Fairbanks Ranch/Rancho Santa Fe Invasive Plant Eradication and Stream Enhancement Project, which has been underway since 2015.

The grants include $71,826 in Prop. 1 funds from the State Coastal Conservancy; $18,662 from the California Fire Safe Council’s Fire Prevention Grant Program; and $53,500 to contract crew labor from the Urban Corps of San Diego. These funds were awarded to SDRVC and the Urban Corps as part of the local allocation of Prop. 68 funds to local conservation corps.

The restoration project covers 94.9 acres of riparian habitat along a 2.5-mile stretch of the San Dieguito River between Fairbanks Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe.

This year the SDRVC will work to control invasive non-native species by clearing invasive plants, treating the site with aquatic-approved herbicides, and revegetating with native plants.

SDRVC will contract the Urban Corps of San Diego to conduct this work following the end of nesting season in September.

The location of the project area is pivotal because the site is currently heavily impacted by non-native, invasive species such as giant reed, tamarisk, pampas grass, palms, castor bean, and eucalyptus that are crowding out native plants.

Part of the focus of the project is wildfire fuel-reduction. Several invasive species, like arundo and eucalyptus, are fire risks—as residents of Fairbanks Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe have seen in recent years.

“When the last two fires came through the San Dieguito River Valley, they came right up onto my street. I firmly believe that because of the efforts of the SDRVC and California Native Plant Society, no homes were lost. It’s so great to see the river valley returned to its natural habitat,” said Suzanne Lichter, a Fairbanks Ranch resident.

SDRVC has been managing this project in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Game; Wildlife Service; California Native Plant Society, San Diego Chapter; Fairbanks Ranch Association; Rancho Santa Fe Association; and private landowners. The SDRVC is authorized to conduct this work under the JPA’s existing California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) clearances and programmatic regulatory permitting. — News release

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