El Monte Valley

DEMOCRACY IN ACTION: SUPERVISORS VOTE TO HONOR COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY BY PURCHASING 98 ACRES IN EL MONTE VALLEY, LAKESIDE

By Henri Migala

Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report.

Photo, left: Billy Ortiz and Bobby Wallace, co-organizers of efforts to preserve El Monte Valley

February 11, 2021 (Lakeside) – Thanks to widespread community engagement, San Diego County Supervisors yesterday voted unanimously to purchase 98 acres in El Monte Valley from Helix Water District for $2.92 million, preserving the land for public use.

The action came after the board received a petition with over 2,000 signatures and heard unanimous public testimony in support of the purchase. In addition, some 200 residents and tribal members held a march through the valley calling for the land to be protected.

Supervisor Joel Anderson, East County’s newly elected representative whose district includes Lakeside, initially voiced concerns over the cost and disrepair of facilities on the site. But after the majority of the board voiced support for the acquisition initiated by former Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Anderson ultimately not only voted for the land purchase, but also pushed his colleagues to support additional funds to restore dilapidated ball fields and other facilities on the site.


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SUPERVISOR ANDERSON RAISES CONCERNS OVER EL MONTE VALLEY LAND PURCHASE

By Miriam Raftery

February 10, 2021 (Lakeside) – Despite a petition signed by more than 1,500 constituents urging Supervisor to approve this morning’s agenda item to buy and preserve 98 acres in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley from Helix Water District, Supervisor Joel Anderson has issued a press release late yesterday indicating he will likely oppose the measure.

To watch this morning’s meeting or send in comments, visit https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/cob/bosa.html.

Anderson contends the land is too expensive compared to another proposed land purchase at Star Ranch in Campo, which is also on the agenda.

While Campo-area residents have longed pushed for preservation of  Star Ranch, protecting that large parcel provides no direct benefit to people in Lakeside, who fear that if the County does not buy the land, it could be sold to sand mining interests. Helix Water previously sold a separate parcel in El Monte Valley to a sand miner, whose proposed project has drawn strong opposition from Lakeside residents.

Anderson’s district includes El Monte Valley.  The announcement that he opposes the El Monte Valley land purchase proposed by Dianne Jacob before she left office due to term limits has outraged some Lakeside residents.


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HUNDREDS MARCH TO SAVE EL MONTE VALLEY: LAKESIDE RESIDENTS AND TRIBAL MEMBERS URGE SUPERVISORS TO VOTE YES ON LAND PURCHASE

Over 1,500 sign petition to save valley from sand mining

 

By Henri Migala

 

Photo: marchers support land purchase to protect land from sand mining

 

February 7, 2021 (Lakeside) -- San Diego County Supervisors are slated to vote this Wed., Feb. 10 on purchasing 98 acres of Lakeside’s  El Monte Valley from the Helix Water District. A petition signed by more than 1,500 people urges them to vote yes, in hopes of protecting the valley against sand mining and protecting it for posterity. (An earlier petition to stop sand mining in the valley drew more than 3,000 signatures.)

 

Former Supervisor Dianne Jacob introduced the measure to protect the land for the public and prevent it from becoming a sand mine. Jacob, who represented District 2 which includes Lakeside, was a forceful ally of the community and the Kumeyaay in their efforts to protect El Monte Valley from being mined. She secured funds and gathered support of other Supervisors to purchase the land, but term-limits ended her tenure before the issue came up for a vote. Now her replacement, Supervisor Joel Anderson, and two other newly elected Supervisors, will cast deciding votes.  

 

To make sure the new Supervisors are aware of the strong sentiments of the community, a “Save El Monte” demonstration and march was held by Kumeyaay Native Americans and people from across San Diego County on Saturday.


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WALK TO SAVE EL MONTE VALLEY FEB. 6 CALLS ON SUPERVISORS TO BUY LAND FROM HELIX WATER

By Miriam Raftery

February 3, 2021 (Lakeside) – County Supervisors will vote February10 on a proposal to purchase a 104-acre parcel of land in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley from the Helix Water District. This Saturday, Feb. 6, a “Walk to Save El Monte Valley” will be held by East County Land-Use Watchdogs, a 501c3 nonprofit, along with Save El Monte Valley.  Supporters are also urged to sign a petition that has gathered nearly a thousand signatures so far.

Walkers should meet at 10204 Channel Rd. in the dirt lot for the two-mile walk, which is organized by Save El Monte Valley and the East County Land-Use Watchdogs. Arrive at 9 a.m. for the walk starting at 10 a.m. Masks are required. Participants are urged to wear yellow, comfortable shoes, and bring water.

“This land MUST be purchased by the County so it can be conserved and utilized for the public good as open space, instead of being left exposed to development that loses the area’s rural character and doesn’t have the community’s interests at heart,” the flyer states. “Come walk with the East County Community including local Tribal members and supporters of the river this Saturday. Your voice makes a difference!”


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LAKESIDE PLANNERS VOTE AGAINST SAND MINE EIR AS OPPOSITION GROWS, SHADY PAST OF DEVELOPER RAISED

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Lakeside Planning Group members unanimously cast votes to reject EIR on sand mine

November 1, 2018 (Lakeside) --The Lakeside Community Planning Group has voted unanimously to oppose the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a massive sand mining project proposed by El Monte Nature Preserve LLC, the deceptively named company that wants to mine sand on the 479 acre site for the next 12 years in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley. The decision drew applause, cheers and hugs from the large crowd present.  View video of the LPCG meeting by Billy Ortiz.

Meanwhile, opposition to the project is growing – and serious questions over the property owner’s ethics are being raised.


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SAND MINE DEVELOPER STARTS DIGGING WITHOUT PERMIT, YET COUNTY SAYS IT’S OK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

Photos by Billy Ortiz; Facebook screenshots

 

By Mike Allen

Updated October 26 with comments from Supervisor Dianne Jacob

October 25, 2018 (Lakeside) -- The developer of the El Monte Valley Sand Mine is apparently is so sure the project will get approved he began digging Oct. 24 without a permit, but according to San Diego County he doesn’t need one.

El Monte Nature Preserve LLC, the ironically-named entity that has been seeking county approval for the mining operation on nearly 500 acres of land near Lakeside, sent a heavy equipment operator to the site Wednesday to  begin digging holes. That prompted several local mining opponents to block the operation.


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COUNTY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT STAFF FACES STIFF OPPOSITION FROM IRATE LAKESIDE RESIDENTS OVER PROPOSED SAND MINE PROJECT

 

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo, left, by Paul Kruze

October 12, 2018 (Lakeside) -- Members of San Diego County’s Planning and Development staff bravely faced some 500 irate Lakeside residents at a recent loud and often rowdy standing room only meeting at the Lakeside Community Center over a proposed sand mine project at the El Monte Valley.

The meeting came on the heels of a controversial draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) released by the County on the possible environmental effects the sand mine project might have directly on the Lakeside community and on the adjacent cities of Santee and El Cajon.

The County has solicited its draft report for public review and comment from August 30th through October 29th. (The report and other documents related to the project can be accessed here.)


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HELIX WATER RECEIVES $8 MILLION FINAL PAYMENT FOR EL MONTE LAND SALE ON SITE PROPOSED FOR SAND MINING

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery, East County News Service

June 16, 2017 (Lakeside)-- Helix Water District (HWD) received a long-anticipated $8 million check on June 16th, officially marking the end of a six-year legal dispute over a 460-acre parcel of land the water agency owned in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley. The land sale is the result of a 2014 court settlement between Helix Water District and the El Capitan Golf Club (now known as El Monte Nature Preserve LLC). 

The payment is good news for customers of the Helix Water District, where hefty rate hikes to balance budgets led to a ratepayer revolt and ouster of two incumbent board members last election.  But the final payment dashes hopes of El Monte Valley residents and Lakeside community planners opposed to El Monte Nature Preserve’s proposed   sand mining operation to extract 18 million tons of sand over 15 years from the El Monte Valley on the site.


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SAVE EL MONTE FUNDRAISER APRIL 17

 

East County News Service

April 4, 2017 (Lakeside) – Activists seeking to save El Monte Valley from a proposed sand mining operation are raising money for a legal battle. On Monday, April 17 from 5-10 p.m., a benefit will be held at Eastbound Bar and Grill, 10553 Maine Ave. in Lakeside.


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LAKESIDE RESIDENTS SEEK CLEANUP OF DEBRIS IN EL MONTE VALLEY

 

Updated March 28 with a response from Michael Beck at the Endangered Habitats Conservancy and Supervisor Dianne Jacob's office.

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2017 (Lakeside) - A big mess in Lakeside just got worse.  Someone has dumped debris illegally over the weekend along a waste heap from a former sand mining site that residents in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley were already fighting to get cleaned up.


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FREE GUIDED FLUME TRAIL HIKE IN LAKESIDE FRIDAY, FEB. 10

 

East County News Service

February 7, 2017 (Lakeside) - Robin Rierdan with the Lakeside Rive Park Conservancy will lead a series of four beautiful hikes through Lakeside. The first is this Friday, February 10th along the Flume Trail in El Monte Valley.  Space is limited and registration is required by Thursday. Register here.


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REPTILES OF EL MONTE VALLEY: PRESENTATION OCT. 17 IN LAKESIDE

 

East County News Service

October 1, 2016 (Lakeside) – The U.S. Geological Survey has completed and published its report, “Rare Alluvial Sands of El Monte Valley, California” confirming the rich diversity of reptile species found here.  Jonathan Richmond, PhD, of the USGS will present findings on Monday, Oct. 17 from 7-9 p.m. at the Lakeside Christian Church, 13739 El Monte Rd. in Lakeside.


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HEAR OUR INTERVIEW WITH ANA NITA ON EFFORTS TO SAVE EL MONTE VALLEY FROM SAND MINING

 

By Miriam Raftery

Listen now! Click the orange button above. (Note, sound files may take a few moments to load.)

July 13, 2016 (Lakeside) -- East County Magazine's show on KNSJ recently sat down with Ana Nita, an investigative journalist and activist who is working on a documentary about controversies involving a proposed sand mine that could have devastating consequences for people and wildlife in Lakeside's picturesque El Monte Valley.

She also discusses apparent conflicts of interest involving Michael Beck, a county planning commissioner with financial ties to the sand mining company, and has called for Beck to resign or be removed. 

As an update, after this interview aired, Supervisor Dianne Jacob's office advised us that she is asking County Counsel for advice on the appropriate way to handle Beck's conflict of interest issue.

Audio: 

Ana Nita interview on KNSJ

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VIDEO OF THE MONTH: SAVE EL MONTE VALLEY, THE JEWEL OF SAN DIEGO

 

East County News Service

View the video: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10201644595153046&id=1724097629

June 12, 2016 (Lakeside) - Billy Ortiz has created a beautiful and moving video of El Monte Valley in Lakeside, which is threatened by a proposed sand mining project. 


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SAND MINING PROJECT APPLICANT SUBMITS REVISIONS TO PROPOSAL FOR LAKESIDE’S EL MONTE VALLEY

 

East County News Service

April 18, 2016 (Lakeside) – The developer who seeks to build a sand mine the scenic El Monte Valley in Lakeside that is overwhelmingly opposed by residents has submitted  a scoping letter to the County of San Diego with significant changes to the proposed project.  Click here to view the full document.


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COMMUNITY MEETING SEPT. 10 CONVENED BY OPPONENTS OF SAND MINING PROJECT IN LAKESIDE

East County News Service

September 7, 2015 (Lakeside) – Residents of El Monte Valley and other community members concerned about a massive sand mining project proposed in Lakeside are invited to join a meeting convened by the Preserve El Monte Action Coalition.  The meeting will be held Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. in the Lakeside Christian Church, 13739 El Monte Road in Lakeside.

The goal will be to help residents frame concerns to address them in writing to the County of San Diego.


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RESIDENTS AND AN ER DOCTOR SPEAK OUT AGAINST SAND MINING IN EL MONTE VALLEY

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 26, 2015 (Lakeside) - - Residents, environmentalists and medical experts presented strong evidence for why a proposed sand mining project in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley should not be approved.  Opponents of Enviornmine’s proposed 167-acre project spoke out at tonight’s scoping meeting conducted by the county.’s Planning department.  Public comment remains open until September 14th, after which an Environmental Impact Report will be drafted.

Dr. Christy Walker, an emergency room physician, testified about the confirmed presence of Valley Fever (coccidioides immitis) in El Monte Valley; evidenced in the treatment of both people and pets who contracted the potentially lethal illness in the Valley. She indicated that Valley fever does not just affect the lungs but can affect multiple organs. Her concern is that mining that lift layers of sand to dig the 100' deep, 182 acre wide mining pit would release fungal coccidioides spores d into the air, greatly increasing exposure and infection.


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PROPOSES LAKESIDE SAND MINE OWNERS ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT WITH WEST COAST SAND AND GRAVEL INC.

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 26, 2015 (Lakeside)--El Monte Nature Preserve, LLC, the company that aims to sand mine El Monte Valley in Lakeside, a designated county scenic view corridor, for the next 30 years announced this week that it has entered into a sand extraction and marketing agreement with West Coast Sand and Gravel, Inc.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: THE FUTURE OF EL MONTE VALLEY

 

 

Editor’s note: This essay paints a picture of what El Monte Valley could look like in the future; Sunrise Power Link has been built; solar and sand-mining projects are planned or proposed.

By Rob Foster 

August 26, 2015 (Lakeside)--Early mornings, I like to walk outside with coffee in hand and sit down facing the morning sun. Gazing northeast the scar left from the Sunrise project are clearly seen. Sun lit power towers draped with wires and ten acres of stripped land below scenic El Capitan Mtn. SDG&E promised the ten acre site would be returned to its original undisturbed state. SDG&E destroys the ecosystem leaving an ugly scare in a matter of months. Thank you for the reminder of a broken promise.

 As I look east,  a glare catches my eyes.


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COUNTY SCOPING MEETING IN LAKESIDE AUG. 26 ON SAND MINE PROJECT

Credit photo to Billy Ortiz

East County News Service

August 17, 2015 (Lakeside) – The County is preparing an environmental impact report on a massive sand mining project  proposed in El Monte Valley. The first step is to determine the “scope” of issues to be addressed. The County will host a scoping meeting on the project on Wednesday, August 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Lakeside Community Center, 9841 Vine Street in Lakeside.

Members of the public, agencies and organizations are invited to attend and submit comments to assist the in determining the scope and content of the environmental informational impact report.  Details can be found at http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/pds/ceqa_public_review.html . To have your comments entered into the official record, you must voice your comments at the public meeting or submit a letter before September 14 to:


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LAKESIDE MEETING ON SAND MINING PROJECT JULY 28

 

July 22, 2015 (Lakeside) - Save El Monte Valley, a citizens group opposed to a proposed sand mining project, invites concerned citizens to a community meeting on July 28 at 6 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the Lakeside Christian Church, 13739 El Monte Road in Lakeside.


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PETITION TO SAVE SCENIC EL MONTE FROM SAND MINING

By Miriam Raftery

June 8, 2015 (Lakeside) – Lakeside residents have launched an online petition asking Bill Horn, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, to save El Monte from a proposed sand-mining project.  View or sign petition here.

This ill-conceived, destructive and dangerous project poses a clear public safety threat. It would also destroy a place so beautiful that it’s been designated a county scenic view corridor and a focal point in long-range San Diego River Park preservation plans.  Mining here could also contaminate a major drinking water supply and potentially spread deadly Valley Fever across our region.


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LAKESIDE RESIDENTS AND PLANNERS VOICE OUTRAGE OVER SAND MINING PROPOSAL AT HEATED MEETING

 

Story by Miriam Raftery

 

Photo, left: "Would you want these kids breathing that, every day for 15 years?" -- Jessica Webb

 

June 5, 2015 (Lakeside) –  Imagine up to 250 trucks a day – one every minute and a half—hauling sand along a rural  road right in front of your house--five days a week for the next 15 years or more in El Monte Valley, if a sand mining developer has his way.  It gets worse:  noise and dust from sand mining operations clogging the area, kicking up potentially deadly Valley Fever spores lurking in soil here, where several El Monte Valley residents have already contracted the disease. 

The sand loads would be transported for use on highways, roadways and other aggregate projects across San Diego County—potentially bringing sand  laden with Valley Fever spores to construction projects near you.  All thanks to a deal cut by Helix Water District to settle litigation over a golf course and water reclamation deal gone sour on land that Helix owned in El Monte Valley, a county-designated scenic view corridor.

This project has the Orwellian-like name “El Monte Nature Preserve” though all parties including the developer concede it is first and foremost a mining operation that will strip bare the valley for decades, lowering the valley floor 30 feet with dredging  far deeper in places, in a project three times wider than Lake Jennings.


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SAND MINING PROJECT IN EL MONTE VALLEY ON AGENDA FOR LAKESIDE PLANNERS JUNE 3

UPDATE: Hear our interview on KNSJ radio with Lisa Wood, Lakeside resident and chair of Supervisor Dianne Jacob's youth activites on the river committee.  Wood discusses impacts of the sand mining project, which she believes would be severe, irreversible, and worse than Sunrise Powerlink. 

Listen online now: https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/au...

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Facebook site dedicated to stopping project

May 29, 2015 (Lakeside) – A controversial proposal for sand mining in scenic El Monte Valley along the San Diego River bed is on the agenda for the Lakeside Planning Group on Wednesday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lakeside Community Center (, 9841 Vine St, Lakeside). The applicant is the “El Monte Nature Preserve LLC,” though residents voice concerns the project will be destructive to nature, not preserve it.  View application.

Lakeside resident Billy Ortiz, a videographer who chronicles Lakeside’s beauty for media outlets and the Lakeside Historical Society, opposes the project. He voiced outrage over the plan.

. “If we don’t stop them, our beautiful valley will be destroyed,” Ortiz told ECM.  “We will be there to protest and discourage the project.”

Audio: 


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INDUSTRIAL SOLAR PROPOSAL IN EL MONTE VALLEY OUTRAGES RESIDENTS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

A proposed industrial solar farm in Lakeside’s scenic El Monte Valley is stirring up controversy.  Property owner David Pressman/OCI Solar Lakeside has proposed to build a 40-acre solar photovoltaic project with approximately 8,500 solar panels on El Monte Road.  OCI is a Korean company with holdings in the U.S.

A hearing on the plan is set for December 3rd at 6:30 p.m. before the Lakeside Community Planning Group at the Lakeside Community Center.

“Everyone I have talked to too is against it for many reasons.” says photographer Billy Ortiz. “My reason is El Monte Valley is and should always be a scenic corridor, period.” He posted photos of the proposed site and drew some strong responses.


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‘ONCE IN A BLUE MOON’ IN LAKESIDE ON OCTOBER 20

 

October 12, 2013 (Lakeside) – Lakeside’s River Park Conservancy’s Once in a Blue Moon Dinner and Auction will take place October 20 from 4 – 8 p.m. at Hazy Meadow Ranch, 15466 El Monte Road, Lakeside.  Discover the beauty of El Monte valley while enjoying live entertainment, sipping cocktails and eating Santa Maria Style barbeque.


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FIRE CHARS 110 ACRES IN LAKESIDE

By Nadin Abbott

Photos and videos by Billy Ortiz

View video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFyIKMWlzdE&feature=youtu.be

 July 2, 2013 (Lakeside)—Firefighters from Heartland Fire, the U.S. Forestry Service, Cal-Fire and Lakeside Fire Department have attained 50% containment of a brush fire that consumed at least 110 acres Lakeside as of this evening.  The fire began along El Monte Road in light, flashy fuels this afternoon and burned portions of El Cajon Mountain (El Capitan).


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BEST VIDEOS IN EAST COUNTY: BOBCATS IN EL MONTE VALLEY

By Billy Ortiz

View video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0EPuSgKJOY

November 20, 2012 (Lakeside) --Early in the morning on November 15 in El Monte Valley, I was driving slowly like always, hoping to see a cat. Today was my day--I spotted one close to the road, followed it up the mountain a bit and discovered that there was more than one. Much to my surprise, I saw a second and then a  third bobcat to my right. What I didn't realize was that I had gotten  between the mama and one of her young.


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HOME INVASION IN LAKESIDE LEAVES 3 PEOPLE HOSPITALIZED

Photos, video and story by Billy Ortiz

October 5, 2012 (Lakeside)—Shots rang out at 6:24 yesterday morning after an intruder stabbed a resident in the 15000 block of El Monte Road in Lakeside.  According to Sergeant Tom Poulin with the Santee Sheriff’s Department, as the intruder was fleeing the scene in the car he was attempting to steal from the resident, the resident shot off a couple of gun rounds.


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PRESERVATIONISTS SCORE A VICTORY ON EL CAJON MOUNTAIN

 

August 14, 2012 (El Cajon) – The San Diego River Park Foundation has succeeded in acquiring 157 acres on scenic “El Capitan” (El Cajon) Mountain in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley, a designated county scenic view corridor.  The victory is sweet for preservationists, since a portion of the mountain has been marred by Sunrise Powerlink and this will protect much of what’s left for future generations.  It’s nicknamed El Capitan for its resemblance to the landmark in Yosemite Valley. 


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