Buena Vista Audubon is excited to report that on Friday, June 30, we closed on escrow for acquiring the Cheatham property! It’s been a long road towards permanently protecting this 31-acre former dairy farm in the hills above the San Luis Rey River. We started looking into it about three years ago, at the same time that we were trying to buy the property across the street from the nature center. Nestled in between the vast Camp Pendleton and protected lands along the San Luis Rey River, it was an opportunity to create a giant swath of protected and restored lands in north Oceanside. We just needed the right partners to help with this large task!
We worked with Ann van Leer, President of Land Conservation Brokerage, Inc, who specializes in conservation land transactions, to navigate the acquisition process for both properties. Because the Cheatham property is adjacent to Camp Pendleton, it qualified for the military’s “REPI” (Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration) program. This program funds open space acquisition and habitat restoration of lands buffering military bases. Through this program, the Navy agreed to pay for half the acquisition costs and all of the restoration and long-term management costs.
We just had to find the other half of the acquisition costs for this $1.56 million parcel! Ann applied to the CA State Natural Resources Agency for a grant, and we were awarded all but about $80,000. North County Advocates, CA Audubon’s Wimberly Fund, and the Malk Nature Fund helped make up the shortfall by contributing $20,000, $25,000, and $30,000, respectively. Another several thousand dollars came in from individual donors. We are very grateful to our funding partners for helping make this acquisition possible.
So… what’s next? As mentioned earlier, the Navy is paying for the restoration and long-term management of the land-about a $2.4 million value! They are currently reviewing a comprehensive restoration and management plan that BVAS submitted, which was created by local Restoration Ecologist Julie Fontaine (of Trestles Environmental Corporation). The plan is to restore the land to coastal sage scrub (CSS), with some pockets of coastal cacti. This will become habitat for the endangered CA gnatcatcher and other species that depend on CSS ecosystems. The restoration phase will last about five years, and then a long-term management endowment kicks in, to fund into perpetuity the management of the land. Meanwhile, BVAS is looking to hire a land manager to help facilitate the restoration and management, as well as work on the next steps for our BVAS Wetlands Reserve. Stay tuned!
For more information, please contact: Natalie Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 241-2153