December 19, 2013 (San Diego) – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and the U.S. Forest Service have partnered to preserve and protect 448 acres between El Cajon Mountain and the El Capitan Reservoir. Known as Oak Ridge Ranch, the property is now National Forest system land donated by SDG&E.
The partnership at Oak Ridge Ranch protects native Engelmann oak trees that only grow naturally in a narrow band that stretches along the mountain foothills of Southern California and Baja California, Mexico. The Engelmann oak is an indicator species, which means that when this beautiful evergreen oak thrives, so too does the surrounding forest ecosystem.
Oak Ridge Ranch serves as the “front yard” for the golden eagle which nests in the adjacent El Capitan area. The land also supports the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher, and a variety of sensitive plants, such as the Moreno currant and the San Diego milkvetch.
“We are pleased to have collaborated with the U.S. Forest Service to preserve the acres that span Oak Ridge Ranch,” said J. Chris Baker, senior vice president, strategic planning and technology, SDG&E. "This acquisition is a vital part of our land conservation efforts that will forever preserve more than 11,000 acres of critical ecosystems throughout San Diego and Imperial County."
“SDG&E’s donation of the Oak Ridge Ranch to the Cleveland National Forest will secure much needed habitat for wildlife and enhance the scenic value for forest visitors to experience America’s great outdoors,” said Donn Christiansen, Descanso district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service’s Cleveland National Forest. The land donation is among more than a dozen properties that SDG&E is preserving to offset impacts on scenic quality, sensitive vegetation and listed species as set forth by the approved Sunrise Powerlink Habitat Acquisition Plan and Habitat Management Plan. SDG&E will eventually preserve over 11,000 acres – an area 68 times bigger than Disneyland – having protected more than 10 times the space its transmission line construction physically disturbed. The project’s nearly 500 acres of temporary impacts will be fully restored to pre-impact conditions.