Mountains

WELCOME, MOUNTAIN DWELLERS!

Our Mountain Living section covers the mountain communities in San Diego's East County north of I-8 including Aguanga, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Guatay, Julian, Mount Laguna, Pine Valley, Ranchita, Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley and Warner Springs.


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Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.

SANTA YSABEL COLLISION KILLS GIRL, 11

East County News Service

February 21, 2024 (Santa Ysabel, CA) – An 11-year-old girl has died as a result of a two-vehicle collision that occurred in Santa  Ysabel on February 17 around 2:40 p.m.

According to Officer Jared Grieshaber with the California Highway Patrol, an Escondido woman,27, was driving a 2020 Honda Accord with three passengers. She was headed east on State Route 76 and stopped at the intersection with State  Route 79, then pulled out in front of a 2022 Ford F-150 pickup truck that was heading south on  State Route 79.


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SAVOR A TASTE OF ALPINE MARCH 16

East County News Service

 

February 17, 2024 (Alpine) -- Indulge in the captivating charm of Alpine, CA! Immerse yourself in a sensory journey that explores the exquisite trifecta of Cuisine, Commerce, and Culture.


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SUSPECT WHO RAMMED RAMONA SHERIFF’S STATION ARRESTED FOR FELONY VANDALISM

East County News Service

February 12, 2024 (Ramona) – Jorge Aguilar, 21, has been arrested for felony vandalism after reportedly ramming his pickup truck into the back gate of the San Diego County Sheriff’s substation in Ramona on Saturday, says Detective Thomas Sutton.


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FIVE MARINES CONFIRMED KILLED IN HELICOPTER CRASH IN PINE VALLEY

East County News Service

Update February 9, 2024:  The Marine Corps has identified those who died in the helicopter crash as Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, Capt. Jack Casey, Sgt. Alec Langen, Capt. Benjamin Moulton, and Capt. Miguel Nava, all in their 20s, with the 3rdMarine Aircraft Wing.

February 8, 2024 (Pine Valley) – The U.S. Marine Corps has confirmed that all five Marines aboard yesterday’s crash of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter in Pine Valley during Tuesday night’s storm have died.


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RURAL RESIDENTS OPPOSE AT&T PROPOSAL TO PULL PLUG ON LAND LINES, SAY ACTION COULD COST LIVES: HEARING MARCH 19

By Miriam Raftery

Image: CC via Bing

February 8, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) – AT&T has filed an application asking the California Public Utilities Commission to end AT&T’s obligation to serve as a carrier of last resort (COLR) and cease maintaining land line telephone service. A map indicates this would include the entire San Diego region. If the CPUC approves the request,  land line service could end as early as six months later.

There are no in-person hearings in San Diego County, but you can voice your opinion in a virtual hearing March 19 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. or post online comments here.  

"If approved by the CPUC, over 580,000 affected AT&T customers would be left with fewer options in terms of choice, quality, and affordability," warns the Rural County Representatives of California. "Alternative services, such as VoIP and wireless, have no obligation to serve a customer or to provide equivalent services to AT&T landline customers, including no obligation to provide reliable access to 911 or Lifeline program discounts."

The proposal has drawn strong opposition from rural residents in East County and elsewhere in California, as well as consumer advocates who warn that ending land lines would leave many in rural or remote locations with no reliable phone service at all, since Internet VOIP phone service is not widely available in many places and some areas also lack cell phone connectivity. Even for those with cell service, land lines have proven life-saving options when cell towers have burned down during wildfires in places such as rural Potrero.


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SNOW CLOSES SCHOOLS IN MOUNTAIN AREAS, CHAINS REQUIRED ON HIGHWAYS

Winter storm warning in effect for mountains through Thursday, Feb. 8 at  12 p.m.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Laguna Mountain Lodge webcam

February 7, 2024 (San Diego’s East County)—Several inches or more of snow blanketed San Diego County’s mountains overnight.  Snow fell in Julian, Pine Valley, and many other mountain communities, with more precipitation forecast today.

Due to weather and road conditions, several school districts are closed and have a snow day today, according to the San Diego County Office of Education:  Julian Union Elementary , Julian Union High, Mountain Empire,  Spencer Valley,  Warner Unified.


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SEARCH UNDERWAY FOR CREW OF MILTARY HELICOPTER MISSING IN SNOWY, RUGGED TERRAIN NEAR PINE VALLEY

By Miriam Raftery

February 7, 2024 (Pine Valley) – Crews from multiple agencies are searching for the crew of a military helicopter that went missing southeast of Pine Valley and north of Interstate 8 near Kitchen Creek Road. The helicopter has been located this morning as of 10:50 a.m., but the crew has not yet been found.

Heavy snow is making it difficult for searchers to access the area. Cal Fire San Diego is currently in unified command with the U.S. Forest Service, according to Cal Fire. Agencies helping in the search include the U.S. Border Patrol, San Diego County Sheriff’s Dept., and California Civil Air Patrol.


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VALENTINE’S DAY TEA FEBRUARY 8-14

East County News Service 

February 5, 2024 (Julian) -- Julian Tea and Cottage Arts’ Valentine’s Teas will be held seven days Thursday February 8 through Wednesday, February 14. These teas will be served indoors and are also available to go. 


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AN EVENT TO HOWL ABOUT: WOLF TOURS FEB. 11 IN JULIAN

East County News Service

February 4, 2024 (Julian) – The California Wolf Center in Julian invites you to book a guided tour of their facility to see their resident wolves and learn about wolf conservation. Various tours are offered each weekend this month at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Reservations are required.

The Wolf Conservation and Behavioral Enrichment Tours are both 1 hour in length and offer an unforgettable experience where you will have the opportunity to see critically endangered wild wolves and learn all about them from an expert at the center’s Conservation Facility on KQ Ranch Rd. in Julian. 


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: COYOTE PAIR

January 27, 2024 (Ramona) -- Joe Cortez photographed this pair of coyotes chilling out in the Ramona Grasslands County Preserve. This biologically diverse 3,541 acre preserve also supports 23 butterfly species, 21 reptile species, six types of amphibians, 37 mammals, over 100 types of birds, and 408 plant species. You can visit on your own, or join a docent-led guided excursion.


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MEDICAL FUND SET UP TO AID FORMER ALPINE WOMAN WITH BRAIN HEMORRHAGE

By Miriam Raftery

January 21, 2024 (Alpine, CA) – Tamara Newton, a Granite Hills High School alumni and daughter of Alpine resident Carlette Anderson, is hospitalized after suffering a brain hemorrhage from a suspected tumor. She is paralyzed on her left side, cannot walk, and requires full-time care.

“The family has been very generous, but now we need some extra help with her expenses and recovery,” Anderson, founder of CPR PROS,  told  East County Magazine. A GoFundMe account has been setup to help pay for surgery and other medical needs.

The family posted on the site, “There is no doubt that it will be SO much easier for her if you join us in showering her with blessings and support in this time of need. She cannot work at this time, has limited savings and many new expenses. AND all this happened within days of moving from New Jersey to California with her youngest son.”


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THUNDERSTORMS, HEAVY RAINS FORECAST

East County News Service

January 18, 2024 (San Diego) -- The National Weather Service is forecasting a major storm bringing widespread rain this weekend and early next week countywide, with thunderstorms possible in San Diego’s mountains, valleys and coastal areas. The storm is also expected to bring gusty winds, graupel (similar to hail) and lightning that could pose hazards to those outdoors.


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PINE VALLEY POSTMASTER RESCUES RUNAWAY HORSES

By Duke Gonzalez, Strategic Communications Specialist, U.S. Postal Service

 

January 16, 2024 (Pine Valley) – A  ‘Pony Express’ recently rode again in Pine Valley, California. But this time, it delivered heroism and community service rather than the mail. 


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ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE TO BLOCK ALPINE COMMUNITY PARK'S SPORTS COMPLEX

By Miriam Raftery

January 11, 2024 (Alpine) – Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit in Superior  Court on January 5 against San Diego County. The suit filed by Cleveland National Forest Foundation and California Native Plant Society contends that the county failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act when supervisors approved an environmental impact report in December for Alpine’s first community park. The Alpine Community Park, adjacent to Cleveland National Forest and Wright’s Field, would include a sports complex and more.


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HAWK WATCH IN RAMONA TAKES WING SATURDAYS IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY

East County News Service

January 8, 2024 (Ramona) – The Wildlife Research Institute in Ramona invites you to Hawk Watch, each Saturday in January and February at 10 a.m. at Begent Ranch, 18528 Highland Valley Rd, in Ramona.  Arrive at 9:30 for coffee and donuts, then enjoy the free program that includes biologist’s talks, Q&A with falconry or ambassador raptors up close, followed by optional roadside observations of wild raptors and other wildlife including a Bald Eagle nest where you'll drive your own car less than 2 miles on paved roads and come and go at your leisure. Biologists and local expert volunteer observers will help you spot and identify birds and show them to you through our high-powered professional telescopes.


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OPEN FARM TOURS JANUARY 13 AND 27 AT OASIS CAMEL DAIRY

East County News Service

January 8, 2024 (Ramona) -- Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona invites you to open farm tours on Saturday, January 13 and January 27 from 12 to 2 p.m.  Enjoy a bird show and camel show, meet and feed camels and lambradoodles, take a camel ride, and enjoy camel milk products such as artisan soaps, lotions, chocolate and camel milk.

Tickets must be purchased online.


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STAY SAFE! SIGN UP FOR OUR FREE EAST COUNTY WILDFIRE & EMERGENCY ALERTS

Sign up here to receive our free East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts via email.  Our alerts can reach you even if phone lines or cell towers burn down.  We cover wildfires, flash floods, major highway shutdowns, severe weather alerts, gas leaks, and other hazards in our region.  We suggest signing up on all of your emails –home, work, school, and encourage  friends, family members and coworkers to do the same. These alerts save lives!

You can also follow East County Alerts on Twitter.

You can also sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter, with top local news and events in East County.  You can choose alerts, or newsletter, or both.


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Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.

COLD FRONT BRINGS SNOW TO LOCAL MOUNTAINS, FROST TO VALLEYS AND DESERTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Mt. Laguna Lodge webcam

January 3, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) – The first snowfall of the year is blanketing Mount Laguna, with snow showers forecast through this evening.  Scattered rain showers and thunderstorms are forecast elsewhere in the region, along with gusty winds in mountain and desert areas.

Frost is forecast tonight in San Diego’s mountains and deserts.Use caution when driving, as icy roads will occur.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: RESCUED PUPPIES IN RAMONA

East County News Service

Photos courtesy of CalFire San Diego

December 20, 2023 (Ramona)—The crew from Cal Fire’s Station 80 rescued nearly 20 animals from a barn fire in Ramona earlier this week, including these adorable puppies.

Unfortunately, one animal perished in the fire on Ramona Real.


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PINE VALLEY POST OFFICE DELIVERS A HAPPY HOLIDAY MESSAGE TO ITS CUSTOMERS

By Rebecca Person

December 18, 2023 (Pine Valley) -- Postmaster Jessie Hoffman delights in seeing the Pine Valley branch of the U.S. Postal Service office decorated to fit the spirit of the holiday season. This year, volunteers lent a hand.

 “It was such a nice addition to have the community helping this year to have the town decorated.” she exclaims. “I came in on Monday to find the gingerbread men lining the sidewalk. Then, during the week others came to hang the snowflakes.”

She continues, “We love to make the office festive and welcoming to the community… This past year we had a seasonal tree up year-round. It is Pine Valley, after all, and having a pine tree in the lobby gives a special touch.  Each Christmas we try our best to go all out. My Clerk, Annette Ramirez, added a cardboard fireplace to our decorations to help make the office feel more welcoming.”


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JAYWALKING PEDESTRIAN STRUCK BY CAR AND KILLED IN RAMONA

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: CC via Bing

 

December 11, 2023 (Ramona) – A Ramona man, 59, suffered fatal injuries when he was struck by a 2023 Nissan Altima yesterday morning around 6:15 a.m.  According to the California Highway Patrol, the man was crossing State Route 67, also known as Main Street near the intersection of 14th street in Ramona against the “don’t walk” illuminated sign.


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RAMONA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION GRANTS $40K TO LOCAL NONPROFITS TO BUILD COMMUNITY & POST-PANDEMIC RECOVERY

East County News Service

December 8, 2023 (Ramona) - Ramona Community Foundation (RCF), a regional affiliate of San Diego Foundation, has awarded $40,000 to seven local nonprofit programs that demonstrate the power to build a more vibrant community and recover from the pandemic.


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SUSPECTS SOUGHT IN RAMONA HOMICIDE;VICTIM IDENTIFIED

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

December 8, 2023 (Ramona) – Angel Jauregui, 35, of  Ramona has been identified as the victim of a deadly shooting that occurred on December 5th. Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call around 11:24 p.m. reporting gunshots and found Jauregui  at the intersection of State Route 78 and Haverford Road in Ramona.


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UNINCORPORATED AREA CREATES ASSOCIATION TO HAVE A VOICE AT SANDAG

By: Jessyka Heredia

December 7, 2023 (San Diego County)—Tomorrow the newly formed Association of Planning Groups-San Diego County will find out if SANDAG will allow the group, comprised of all 18 Planning Groups in the unincorporated areas, to have an advisory role on the SANDAG board. Currently there is no representation for the unincorporated communities.


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RAMONA MOM DIES IN CRASH CAUSED BY SUSPECTED DUI DRIVER

By Miriam Raftery

December 1, 2023 (Ramona) – Andrea Ortiz,44, a single mom with three daughters, was on her way to work Nov. 28  around 7:30 a.m. when a pickup truck crossed the center line on State Route 78 in Ramona. It head-on into Ortiz’s vehicle, which rolled down an embankment. She died at the scene.


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DUI DRIVER ARRESTED FOR FATAL CRASH IN RAMONA

By Miriam Raftery

November 27, 2023 (Ramona) – A 26-year-old man has been arrested for causing a head-on crash on November 25 in Ramona that killed a Ramona woman, 44, then fleeing the scene.


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CAL TRANS PROVIDES UPDATE ON I-8 ROAD WORK FROM ALPINE TO PINE VALLEY

East County News Service

Image left: Project map

November 22, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) –The I-8 Pavement Replacement and Road Improvements Project from Viejas Creek to Pine Valley Creek is now 72% completed after 291 working days. Full completion expected next summer.

Below are details from  CalTrans on upcoming work in late November and December.


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SKATING IN THE WOODS: JULIAN FARM AND ORCHARD OPENS ICE RINK NOV. 10-JAN. 1

 

East County News Service

November 17, 2023 (Julian) — Julian Farm and Orchard is celebrating the opening of its first-ever ice rink. The new rink is set to be the centerpiece of the “Holidays at the Farm” event, happening Fridays Saturdays and Sundays through January 1. Guests are invited to skate with friends and family and wind down after with a seasonal drink by the fire.  The farm is open from 11a.m. to 4p.m. with Ice Skating into the evening depending on the day.   

Holidays at the Farm will feature the ice rink as well as local food and drink vendors. Guests will also have the opportunity to enjoy activities on the farm including the petting zoo and hayrides, rock climbing wall, haybale maze among others. Visitors can also wind down next to  warm fire pits while sipping on their favorite holiday beverages.


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FIRE SPARKS PUBLIC CONCERNS IN JULIAN OVER SHORT-TERM RENTALS

 

“We could’ve been burned out last night. Nobody would have known, and it was windy.” -- Lora Devault,  Pine Hills resident

”I think we are going down a slippery slope...and I have a problem telling people what they can do with their properties.” --Katy Morelli, planning group member

By Jessyka Heredia

WATCH FULL VIDEO HERE

November 17, 2023 (Julian)—Campers at a short-term rental (STR) property in Julian’s Pine Hills neighborhood started an unauthorized campfire on Sunday and failed to properly extinguish it. The embers sparked a brush fire, causing damage to the owner’s property and panic for nearby neighbors.

On Monday, residents spoke out at the Julian Community Planning Group (JCPG) meeting to voice concerns about the growing number of short-term vacation rentals in Julian and disruptions some guests have caused in the community.  The most heated concern focused on off-site owners, such as the vacation site in question, which has rentals both inside a home and outside at tent camping sites. Some vacation rental owners also spoke up in defense of property rights for responsible STR owners.


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