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Earth 8 – Exploring the Hillsides of Encinitas.

“The main purpose of the LeoMar Preserve is to protect endangered species and their habitats so they can thrive in San Diego County….”

Read the full article CBS 8.

Efforts to revitalize the watershed began as far back as 2010

“A long-held vision of turning a concrete flood-control channel that cuts through the heart of Escondido into a linear park lined with landscaping, public art, foot paths and bike trails will soon begin to take shape, thanks to an $8.5 million state parks and recreation grant…”

Read the full article in the SD Union Tribune.


“One thing that unites our Nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the wild lands they love. Since 1991, The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) has been doing just that in North San Diego County. The Conservancy announced today it has achieved national recognition for its work – joining a network of over 450 accredited land trusts across the nation that have demonstrated their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust.

“We are a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation program. Our strength means special places–such as the LeoMar, Keithley, and Sardina preserves–will be protected forever, making the region an even greater place for us and our children,” said Conservancy Director of Finance and Operations Rita Petrekova, who led the multi-year accreditation effort…”

Read the full article on SanElijoLife.com

A newspaper clipping with a color photo of a tiger swallowtail butterfly pollinating a flower. Pale yellow and black tiger stripes line the wings with a little blue dot down at the base of the wing.

Wildlife Photo in the Coast News: Tiger Swallowtail

Every month the Conservancy provides a wildlife photo and nature facts to the Coast Newspaper. This month was a beautiful image of the Tiger Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Land Team Manager, Juan Troncoso. You can find it on page 13 of The Coast News newspaper Inland Edition (August 20, 2021).

View it in the Coast News digital edition.

Earth 8 – LeoMar: New Land Preserve In North County

San Diego.

“Tucked away in the hillside of San Diego County is a new land preserve.

Leonard Wittwer, the President of the Board of Directors for the Escondido Creek Conservancy, described some of the animals that have made themselves at home at LeoMar, a new 79-acre land preserve purchased by the conservancy in the Olivenhain community of Encinitas…”

Read the full article CBS 8.

New Habitat Preserve In North San Diego County Helps California Gnatcatcher

“A little slice of classic Southern California habitat is getting long-term protection in San Diego’s North County.

The Escondido Creek Conservancy has wrangled more than $2 million to buy 79 acres of hilly land covered in coastal sage scrub habitat.

People walking in this hilly undeveloped pocket of land might catch a whiff of sage and mint. Short stubby flowers reach skyward from the rock-hard earth dried out by the sun…”

Read the full article on KPBS.

A screenshot of the Encinitas Advocate newspater with a photo of some coastal scrub brush.

Escondido Creek Conservancy Creates New LeoMar Preserve in Olivenhain

“The Escondido Creek Conservancy land team’s first day on the property was June 11–their chatter and laughter echoed on a quiet morning as they climbed back up a small slope carrying an old sink someone had ditched. A red tailed hawk soared overhead and as if on cue, called out a hello.

‘It’s very exciting when we start a new project like this,” Van Leer said. “We did it, it’s ours, This is a pretty special piece of property. It makes us all very happy.'”

Read the full article on the Encinitas Advocate.

An Image of a news article about proposed public gardens along the Escondido Creek in the San Diego Union Tribune.

The nonprofit proposed the local gardens as part of a larger creek restoration project

ESCONDIDO – The Escondido Creek Conservancy is calling for construction of a series of community gardens in the city, as part of the restoration of its namesake waterway.

The project aims to revitalize Escondido Creek as it runs through the city, lining the flood control channel with a trail, linear park and other recreational features. Among those could be small local gardens “where residents of the city could be assigned small plots to grow vegetables, flowers, and the like,” Conservancy President Richard Murphy recommended in a letter…

Read the full article on the San Diego Union Tribune.

New campaign to support in North County Wildlife ‘Missing Lynx’ promotes wildlife corridors

November 7, 2019

ESCONDIDO — The Escondido Creek Conservancy has launched “The Missing Lynx” campaign to establish permanently protected wildlife corridors in North San Diego County. After successfully acquiring 975 acres as part of their “Save 1,000 Acres” campaign, the Conservancy has shifted its focus to connecting the missing links, so wildlife can move freely between preserved areas, and protecting those linkages in perpetuity.

Read the full article

Escondido Creek Conservancy’s outdoor classroom connects students with nature

Sept 27, 2019

Imagine a world where every student, in every grade, receives a field trip in nature. In Escondido, the Escondido Creek Conservancy is well on the way to making this dream a reality.

Read the full article

Explore the Wonders of the Watershed with Escondido Creek Conservancy’s new hike series

Sept 9, 2019

The Escondido Creek Conservancy is providing special access to its wildlife preserves for a new educational hike series called Wonders of the Watershed. Participants will wander under scenic oak canopies, walk along soothing creek water and view breathtaking summits throughout the Escondido Creek watershed with experts on local ecology, birds of prey and forest bathing.

Read the full article

Wildlife habitat gets break around Wohlford

July 15, 2019

The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) has secured $4.2 million in grant funds from the State of California to protect the 282-acre John Henry property near Lake Wohlford—now known as George Sardina, MD Preserve. The Conservancy took ownership of the property on July 2 and is already making plans to restore areas damaged by past uses.

Read the full article

Escondido Youth Help Design the Future of Escondido

May 1, 2019

The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) has begun a study to reimagine the concrete flood control channel in Grape Day Park in central Escondido as a more natural creek. CIties and states all over the country have undertaken creek and river restoration projects and found them to be a boon for economic development and improved quality of life in otherwise urban areas.

Read the full article

Image courtesy of San Diego Union Tribune (Charlie Neuman)

Pollinator garden sparks metamorphosis in downtown Escondido

November 26, 2018

In downtown Escondido, between Evan’s Tires and the concrete banks of the Escondido Creek, a transformation was in progress.

A gold and black Monarch caterpillar inched up the stem of a milkweed plant in Plaza Del Arroyo last week, seeking leaves that would fuel its conversion to a vivid orange butterfly.

Read the full article

Reidy Creek

Escondido Creek Conservancy Awarded $380K to improve Reidy Creek

September 15, 2018

The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) has been awarded $380,873 by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement the Reidy Creek Restoration and Beautification Project. 

“Reidy Creek is an important natural waterway in the Escondido Creek watershed,” said Richard Murphy, president of the Conservancy, “but it has suffered from infestations of non-native plants that have diminished the ecological values of the creek.” 

Read the full article

Image courtesy of Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

New Exhibit at Elfin Forest Center Explores ‘Coexisting with Coyotes’

September 5, 2018

A new exhibit at the interpretive center in Escondido’s Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve explores how San Diego residents can coexist with coyotes.

As these highly adaptable animals continue to lose their traditional habitat and are driven onto human-occupied areas, conflict between people and coyotes has increased. Between 1998 and 2015 there were 90 reported coyote attacks on humans in California.

Read the full article

Image courtesy of San Diego Union Tribune (Don Boomer).

This deserted avocado grove could be a gateway to science education

August 6, 2018

The hilltop off of Mountain Meadow Road in North Escondido looks like countless other deserted orchards in North County, with ramshackle structures in withered avocado groves.

Members of The Escondido Creek Conservancy, however, see a sanctuary from urban sprawl, a clear route for wildlife passage and a future science education center. They’ve secured $6.8 million to purchase 693 acres east of Interstate 15 known as the Mountain Gate Property. It’s a key piece of the conservancy’s plan to assemble large areas of protected open space through the Escondido Creek watershed.

Read the full article

Image courtesy of San Diego Foundation.

San Diego Foundation grants open the outdoors to students without park access

July 20, 2018

The San Diego Foundation has committed more than a half-million dollars through its “Opening the Outdoors” program to benefit residents in “park-poor” areas of the county, including several grants aimed at Escondido students.

“We know that San Diegans have a long history and pride in protecting the outdoors,” said Nicola Hedge, director of climate and environment programs for the foundation. “But we also know that not all San Diegans have equal access to the outdoors. While 50 percent of our total region is green space, many ethnically diverse, low-income communities have limited access to green space.”

Read the full article

Harmony Grove

Illegal Mountain Bike Trail Found in Escondido Creek Conservancy

March 2, 2018

An illegal mountain bike trail was discovered on San Marcos property owned by the Escondido Creek Conservancy last December.

The unsanctioned trail is on a 250-acre plot of land owned by the Conservancy and stretches for at least one mile.

“This is sensitive, beautiful habitat that was protected for wildlife and plants,” said Hannah Walchak of the Escondido Creek Conservancy.

Walchak said the group was conducting a routine inspection of their property when the trail was discovered in December. Further inspection in January showed how much work was put into the illegal trail.

Read the full article

Image courtesy of San Diego Union Tribune (Howard Lipin).

Conservancy removes illegal bike trail that marred wildlife preserve

April 20, 2018

On her routine inspection of properties in the Escondido Creek Conservancy earlier this year, Hannah Walchak spotted something new — an illegal, but carefully constructed mountain bike trail, snaking down the hillside on sensitive wildlife habitat.

Walchak, conservation land manager for the organization, investigated and found that the trail was freshly built, and formed a five-foot-wide scar more than a mile through the brushy hills. Someone who knew what they were doing had hacked the California lilac from the path, tossed it aside and moved rocks to create a smooth, steep surface for riding.

Read the full article

Image courtesy of San Diego Union Tribune (Charlie Neuman).

Ambitious plan would restore Escondido Creek

December 8, 2016

A concrete channel that cuts through a large chunk of Escondido may get a makeover, as conservationists begin planning to restore Escondido Creek to its natural state.

The nonprofit Escondido Creek Conservancy is seeking $355,000 through a regional water grant to begin designing the restoration project — a first step toward transforming the urban culvert from a polluted canal to a picturesque waterway, officials said.

“We would love to see it be a much more natural channel, and a public amenity for the community..,” said Ann Van Leer, executive director of the conservancy.

Read the full article

Escondido Creek Watershed

Mysterious willow die-off at Escondido Creek

November 26, 2016

A mysterious pest has damaged willows along the Escondido Creek Watershed, leaving conservation officials scrambling for answers to the die-off.

Officials with the Escondido Creek Conservancy originally feared the damage was caused by the shot hole borer beetle, which attacks 137 tree species including willows, oaks and sycamores.

Tests at UC Riverside came back negative for a fungus associated with the beetle, but didn’t reveal what could be threatening the watershed.

Read the full article