Escondido Creek Conservancy earns national recognition

The Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and restore the Escondido Creek Watershed.
The Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and restore the Escondido Creek Watershed.
(Richard Murphy)

The Escondido Creek Conservancy recently achieved national recognition for its work by the Land Trust Alliance, joining a network of over 450 accredited land trusts across the nation that have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance and lasting stewardship of protected lands.

In San Diego County, only the Fallbrook Land Conservancy and San Diego Habitats Conservancy have earned this accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance, which oversees conservation nonprofits. Around the nation, nonprofit accredited land trusts steward almost 20 million acres of land – the size of Denali, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined.

For the record:

9:45 a.m. Sept. 1, 2021

It was reported that in San Diego County, only the Fallbrook Land Conservancy has earned the accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance however the San Diego Habitats Conservancy has also.

“We are a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation program. Our strength means special places–such as the LeoMar, Keithley, and Sardina preserves–will be protected forever, making the region an even greater place for us and our children,” said Conservancy Director of Finance and Operations Rita Petrekova in a news release.

Since 1991, the Conservancy has helped protect over 7,000 acres of wildlife habitat and currently manages 3,000 acres of wildlands in North San Diego County including Rancho Santa Fe, Olivenhain, San Elijo, Elfin Forest, Harmony Grove and Escondido. This year, the Conservancy created a new 104-acre preserve in Olivenhain called LeoMar.

The Conservancy also strongly believes in the benefits of outdoor education and that exposing young people to nature enriches their lives and helps them understand why it’s important to protect wild spaces. Its outdoor education programs reach about 5,000 students, including all third graders in the Escondido Union School District.

In the multi-year accreditation effort, the Conservancy provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive independent third-party evaluation. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that the Conservancy’s lands will be protected forever.

“Accreditation demonstrates the Conservancy’s commitment and ability to provide permanent land conservation through ethical business practices, good corporate governance, and top-notch long-term stewardship,” said Leonard Wittwer, Conservancy co-founder and current board president in the news release. “It is exciting to recognize The Escondido Creek Conservancy with this national mark of distinction.”