Salvation Army sells 752 acres to county to expand Boulder Oaks Preserve

By Joe Naiman

San Diego County supervisors on Aug. 8 approved the purchase of 751.99 acres to expand Boulder Oaks Preserve.

The county will purchase eight parcels and three parcel portions from the Salvation Army for the appraised value of $6.55 million.

The property is adjacent to the existing 1,215-acre Boulder Oaks Preserve north of San Vicente Reservoir and between state Route 67 and Mussey Grade Road.

“This property will increase public access opportunities,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

The Salvation Army, which owned 814 acres, will retain ownership of 62.01 acres on which it operates a camp and retreat off Mussey Grade Road in Ramona.

The land the county will acquire includes southern mixed chaparral habitat along with coastal sage habitat on the upland portions of the property. The meadows and creeks are home to coast live oak, Englemann oak woodland, and riparian habitats.

While the county will maintain some of the property in open space, the acquired parcels also include a staff residence, an abandoned swimming pool, a pool house, a restroom, and maintenance barns. The pool will be demolished and the pool house will be used as a welcome center for visitors and to provide environmental education to the public. That part of the property will also be used as a new base of operations for county Department of Parks and Recreation vehicles, which are currently housed in El Cajon, eliminating the need for daily travel to and from Ramona and thus reducing staff travel time and transportation costs, the county reports. The county anticipates annual fuel, travel time, and transportation savings of $24,261.

On June 5, the director of the county’s Department of General Services executed an option agreement along with a purchase and sale agreement for the property. The supervisors set the August 8 hearing date on June 27. The fair market value includes $175,000 for the structures as well as $6,380,000 for the land.

The Salvation Army and Department of Parks and Recreation will share the responsibility and costs for road maintenance. The existing paved road off Mussey Grade Road will provide public access to the southern portion of the county’s property as well as to a trail staging area and to the existing Boulder Oaks Preserve. The Salvation Army will have an easement to ensure access to its camp and retreat center.

The issue of a cross on public land was avoided by including a peak with the existing cross among the land retained by the Salvation Army, which will continue to maintain that area.

The county’s total one-time costs will total $7.44 million. In addition to the purchase price the county will spend $69,700 for staff and appraisal costs to complete the transaction, $15,600 to survey the area, $16,000 for closing and title costs, and $788,000 in one-time land protection costs including a resource management plan to determine which parts of the land will be accessible to the public.

Total annual management and monitoring costs are estimated at $98,989. The estimated annual fixed-charge assessments such as vector control assessments, water standby, and paramedic services are $7,865.

   
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