July 1, 2013 (Alpine) – The Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) has owned and managed open-space landscapes in San Diego’s East County for over 20 years. The best example of these conservation lands is Wright’s Field preserve in the community of Alpine. Located in the heart of this small foothill town, Wright’s Field is a 230-acre nature preserve, saved from development in 1990 and preserved as open-space for wildlife, habitat conservation, and recreation such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
For those that know and love Wright’s Field in Alpine, this beautiful nature preserve is a place for late afternoon walks, weekend trail rides, and early morning bird-song. But Wright’s Field wasn’t always this way. For years off-road vehicles damaged the heavy clay soil, illegal dumping and overgrazing were the norm. Now all that has changed. The legacy of Wright’s Field as a “no man’s land” is far behind us.
Since the Back Country Land Trust began managing this land as a nature preserve, efforts by the organization’s Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and partners have not only saved this open-space landscape for future generations, they have also made a long-term commitment to restoring native habitat, repairing erosion damage and trails, and clearing the remaining legacy trash from the Preserve.
Recently, Back Country Land Trust reached an important milestone in their goal to protect and restore native habitat conditions at Wright’s Field. Over several years, ongoing efforts to remove barbed-wire fencing, piles of illegally dumped trash, and even a fishing boat from this property have filled dumpster after dumpster, slowly restoring the endangered habitats and historic conditions on this unique piece of property. In June 2013, BCLT finally removed the last major piece of remnant trash from Wright’s Field, an abandoned 1960’s era car lying in the creek bed.
Working with local Alpine business owner Howard Findley of Pioneer Landscape, who volunteered his time and equipment to make this project possible, BCLT pulled the rusted shell of a 1969 Chevy Impala out of the creek channel that flows through Wright’s Field, feeding Alpine Creek and eventually the El Capitan Reservoir. Abandoned nearly 40 years ago, this car and much of the debris was left behind in the aftermath of the 1970 Laguna Fire that burned through what is now Wright’s Field was left to rust around a residence destroyed in the blaze.
Removing this final legacy trash signifies a new era for Wright’s Field, beginning the long slow process of healing this ecosystem. With the support of community volunteers like Howard Findley donating their time and effort each year, Back Country Land Trust has been able to maintain and improve conditions at Wright’s Field over many years. Recent projects include clearing trails, repairing erosion damage, removing non-native plants, and enhancing users’ recreational experiences by restoring a pristine natural environment with a deep ecology and unique history.
“It’s very gratifying to see the Field getting better all the time,” says BCLT co-founder and current Director of Resources, Dr. Charles David Stout of Alpine.
Saved from development in 1990, Wright’s Field has been determined by the State of California to be of unique biological and cultural value, and was designated by the County of San Diego as part of the Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP), a countywide network of open-space lands and wildlife habitat ensuring continued preservation of San Diego’s natural heritage, unique habitats, and verdant wildlife.
To get to Wright’s Field, exit Interstate 8 at Tavern Road, and follow Tavern just over one mile south to Joan MacQueen Middle School. Find parking along Tavern Road in front of the school. On foot, follow the residential private road going east along the school's north-side fence for 0.2 miles until you reach its end. Continue through a gate and into Wright's Field preserve.
For more information on the Back Country Land Trust and Wright’s Field MSCP Preserve in Alpine, visit: http://www.bclt.org.