At the eleventh hour, The Escondido Creek Conservancy (TECC) has secured an agreement with a group of investors who have stepped in to purchase and hold the property known as University Heights from ING bank and provide TECC with a one year option, giving the Conservancy time to secure permanent protection for this land for the benefit and enjoyment of all County residents, now and into the future.
The land, dubbed University Heights on development plans, due to it’s proximity to the California State University of San Marcos, and also known locally as “Sleeping Lady Ridge”, because the silhouette of the land resembles a sleeping woman – consists of 502 acres south of San Marcos and west of Escondido. It takes in the summit, southern slopes and a secluded valley below Mt Whitney, a prominent local high point. This pristine landscape supports the many plants and animals of the chaparral, sage scrub and oak woodland habitats. Located between the trail systems of San Marcos and those of the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve and County of San Diego Parks and Recreation lands, Sleeping Lady Ridge represents a tremendous opportunity for connected outdoor recreation for hikers, bikers and equestrians – without the need for long travel distances. At least two development schemes have been proposed for the land, with up to 1000 new homes suggested, the most recent ending in foreclosure – opening the door for TECC to preserve this valuable
“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Steve Barker, TECC’s Member-at-Large. “This is a great step forward and over the next 12 months, TECC will be working with Federal, State and County agencies to try and secure the funds to preserve the property permanently. I really want to thank everyone who has made a donation to this project. Thanks to their generosity it has been possible to cover the cost of putting the property into escrow. TECC will need to spend a further $100,000.00 in option payments to the investor group during 2013, so we are counting on the continued support of the community to save this beautiful natural space which provides such important refuge for wildlife. While the new owners have given TECC a year to secure the funding for a conservation purchase, if funds cannot be raised, they will sell it on the private market.”
If you would like to make a donation to the University Heights project, become a member of the Conservancy or for more information visit www.escondidocreek.org. Checks can be sent to TECC, P.O.Box 460791, Escondido, CA 92046.
About The Escondido Creek Conservancy
TECC is a local land conservancy which is dedicated to the preservation, enhancement and protection of the natural open space within the Escondido creek watershed. Since 1991 TECC has preserved over 2000 acres of open space through direct purchase or by working in partnership with its members,donors, landowners, government agencies and community groups.