The Riverside Land Conservancy (RLC) is working diligently in the San Timoteo Canyon/Badlands area of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties to preserve sensitive habitat lands and wildlife corridors.
In 1999, RLC set its sights upon San Timoteo Canyon as an area in immediate need of preservation. In partnership with San Timoteo Canyonlands Coalition, surrounding cities, Riverside County and numerous interested individuals, RLC succeeded in 2001 in having California State Parks designate San Timoteo Canyon as a new State Park unit. The Park is envisioned as encompassing approximately 10,000 acres when completed. Through the generosity of two landowners in the center of the canyon, Gale Anne Hurd and Ernest Clark Jr., almost 1,300 acres of land in the Canyon have been transferred to the new state park unit in 2002.
Since that beginning, RLC has partnered with the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) to bring over 2,100 acres into public ownership. RLC continues negotiations with other landowners in the Canyon to either donate or sell land to add to the new state park. Current discussions are underway with Riverside County Regional Park & Open Space District to create a county run facility.
The Riverside Land Conservancy received a substantial grant from Southern California Edison to prepare trail and restoration plans for the Canyon, helping to assure and enhance the area’s natural landscape and appropriate use of the region by the community. These planning efforts have resulted in a strong stakeholder group, committed to habitat enhancement and recreational use of the area.
RLC is working in the Santa Clarita region of Los Angeles County to connect two segments of the Angeles National Forest. The goals of the project include: to conserve a functioning wildlife corridor between two segments of the forest; to protect the biodiversity of the area; to create a green-belt buffer east of Santa Clarita City limits; to establish a continuous trail system with connections to public parks and the Pacific Crest Trail; and restoration of the Santa Clara River and the redevelopment of disturbed areas. The total project area encompasses approximately 26,000 acres.
RLC was retained by the city of Santa Clarita and Santa Clarita Watershed and Recreation Conservation Authority (SCWRCA) to develop and implement a strategy for open space and wildlife corridor preservation. Strategy planning and pre-acquisition funding has come from the City of Santa Clarita, County of Los Angeles, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Vulcan Materials, MRCA and Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. RLC is currently concentrating on negotiations for purchase with landowners.
The Conservancy continues to work in the desert areas of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial Counties to purchase sensitive habitat acreages surrounding federal wilderness areas, National Preserves, and designated desert tortoise habitat. The majority of these land purchases are made through County delinquent tax sales. By purchasing land for the cost of delinquent taxes, RLC is able to preserve these lands at a cost of a fraction of their true value. These sites are eventually sold to Bureau of Land Management or National Parks for perpetual stewardship.
To date, over 1,937 acres of sensitive desert habitat lands have been preserved through this program.
The Vail Lake/ Wilson Creek area of southwest Riverside County has been proposed as the largest preserve area in the newly adopted Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) as part of the Riverside County Integrated Plan (RCIP). The area provides an important wildlife linkage between the San Jacinto and Palomar Mountain Ranges. RLC is negotiating for purchase of property throughout the upper reaches of Santa Margarita Watershed.
RLC is actively involved in the planning, acquisition and management of lands designed to enhance the viability of the Dehli sands flower-loving fly (Rhaphiomidas terminates abdominalis) (DSF). Listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1993, this subspecies is endemic to sand dune formations of San Bernardino Valley extending from Colton to Ontario.
The sand dunes, which originally covered an area of about 40 square miles, have dwindled to 2% of their original area. RLC currently holds title or conservation easement on seven properties, totally about 100 acres, which are preserved and managed as DSF habitat.
The Riverside Land Conservancy is increasingly making use of conservation easements as a conservation tool. A conservation easement (or conservation restriction) is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation value. It allows landowners to continue to own and use their land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs. Future owners continue to be bound by the easement’s terms. Currently, RLC holds conservation easements on 801 acres in western Riverside and San Bernardino Counties including a conservation easement on the 150 acre Colton Dehli sands flower-loving fly Conservation Bank. RLC is in active negotiations to accept an additional 375 acres of conservation easements on sensitive open space and natural habitat areas.
Riverside Land Conservancy is working with a number of southern California cities to develop resource conservation strategies and acquisition implementation plans. RLC is working to develop these strategies for the cities of Temecula, Norco, Ontario and Beaumont as well as the communities surrounding Jurupa Mountain and the Chino Cone.