BVAS purchases the BVAS Andy Mauro Nature Preserve

Buena Vista Audubon is excited to report that on Friday, June 30, we closed on escrow for acquiring the BVAS Andy Mauro Nature Preserve property! (named in honor of Andy Mauro, pevious BVAS board President and currently serving director: the visionary behind our land acquisition efforts). 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 BVAS Andy Mauro Nature Preserve 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 United States Marine Corps 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!  BVAS applied to the CA State Natural Resources Agency for a grant, and we were awarded all but about $100,000.  As with the BVAS Wetlands Reserve purchase, BVAS members and partners stepped up to help make up the $115,000 funding shortfall: Donations from members covered about $40,000, and North County Advocates, California Audubon’s Wimberly Fund, and the Malk Nature Fund made up the rest by contributing $20,000, $25,000, and $30,000, respectively.  We are very grateful to our funding partners for helping make this acquisition possible.

So… what’s next? As mentioned earlier, the Marine Corps is paying for the restoration and long-term management of the land-about a $2.4 million value!  BVAS plans to restore the property to a coastal sage scrub habitat, with some pockets of maritime succulent scrub and grassland habitats, for the federally listed California gnatcatcher and coastal cactus wren, as well as other species of wildlife.

The Marine Corps is currently reviewing our draft restoration and management plan (which was created by Trestles Environmental Corporation).  When approved (anticipated to occur this fall), the five-year restoration process will begin with weed removal, followed by plantings and seeding of native plants.  Once the native plant habitat is restored, long-term management into perpetuity will kick in, which includes activities such as yearly maintenance and monitoring of the property. Meanwhile, BVAS has hired 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, or (406) 241-2153



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