Ramona Grasslands trail expansion receives supervisors’ approval
Wednesday, Aug. 7—A 5 1/2-mile expansion of the Ramona Grasslands trail system received approval from the county Board of Supervisors today.
The board unanimously adopted the mitigated negative declaration, an environmental study showing the trail project would not cause any significant impacts to the area.
The overall plan focuses on preserving sensitive habitats while allowing for limited public access with the 5 1/2-mile trail system, a crossing at Santa Maria Creek, an approximately three-acre parking area for cars and horse trailers, and a viewing pavilion, according to the county. In addition, two volunteer pads would be built, allowing volunteers to live at the site full time in a motor home so they can be onsite 24 hours a day to prevent trespassing and off-trail use.
“This is a really critical trail segment and extremely important to the community of Ramona,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose District 2 includes Ramona. “Residents in Ramona and the surrounding areas will greatly benefit from the expanded trails that they can explore by hiking, biking and horseback.”
Ricardo Soto, a contracted engineer for Ramona Municipal Water District, addressed the board with concerns about impacts to district property that is a adjacent to the preserve.
Jacob said plans near water district property would not be implemented until Phase II of the project. Brian Albright, director of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department, said Phase II is two to four years away.
The proposed trail system would be an extension of the four-mile Oak Country trail off Highland Valley Road.
Phase I would include a staging area and trails just west of Ramona Airport. Phases II and III would add connecting trails east and north of Highland Valley Road.
Funding for the project is still pending, but construction of the first phase could begin in the fall of 2014, reports the county.
“The community has waited a long time to have access to this portion of the preserve,” Jacob said.
The Ramona Grasslands Preserve is approximately 3,490 acres and includes Santa Maria Creek, a pond, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodlands and vernal pools. According to the county, rare animals such as the endangered Stephens’ kangaroo rat and fairy shrimp can also be found, as well as eagles, hawks and falcons that winter at the preserve.
The native grasses and vernal pools at Ramona Grasslands were once common in the region, said the county, but development has done away with about 90 percent of Southern California’s grasslands. Jacob told board members it’s important to preserve the natural grasslands and also allow people to enjoy it.
- Supervisors OK $452,154 for grasslands trail
- County opens first Ramona Grasslands trail
- Supervisors to consider grassland trails expansion and eminent domain for San Vicente Road project
- Views differ on plans for Grasslands trails
- Public review for study of proposed Grasslands trails ends Tuesday
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