Support San Diego Habitat Conservancy TODAY

We are asking for your help to send emails in support of San Diego Habitat Conservancy (SDHC). Below you will find sample emails you can easily cut and paste, along with submittal instructions.  Emails are due by this Friday, October 23 by 9:00 a.m. to the SANDAG Board of Directors so there’s still time to add your name in support of SDHC!


Many of you have heard our excitement about the unique habitat and historic resources and opportunities in our management of Rancho Lilac. Unfortunately, you have also heard we have faced significant delays in acquiring the property. Below you will find additional background, clarification on misconceptions, and other information to help prepare and send your emails to urge SANDAG to finalize the transfer of Rancho Lilac to SDHC.
  • Rancho Lilac was obtained by Caltrans in 2011 as mitigation for biological impacts of the SR-76 widening project. The purchase of Rancho Lilac was funded with TransNet funds, which are administered locally by SANDAG.  In 2013, SANDAG and Caltrans began to seek a new owner and habitat manager for the property. 
  • In 2013, the County of San Diego exercised its right of first refusal to own and manage Rancho Lilac. Instead, in 2016 SANDAG issued an RFP for qualified managers. The County did not submit a proposal to the RFP. SDHC submitted a proposal and was eventually selected as the preferred bidder to manage Rancho Lilac.
  • Fast forward, the County and some community stakeholders have launched an effort to deny SDHC the Rancho Lilac property. This competing effort is largely related to the inclusion of trails on Rancho Lilac; an issue that was not addressed in the RFP.
  • In recent weeks, SANDAG has proposed a solution in which an easement will be added to Rancho Lilac to accommodate future trails. While SDHC’s role will be conserving and preserving Rancho Lilac, we do not oppose trails and stand ready to work with SANDAG, Caltrans, and other stakeholders. The trail easement will require an independent developer and manager, as well as funding.  SDHC stands ready to work with community stakeholders.
  • Some community stakeholders have questioned SDHC’s qualifications. Here are the facts, SDHC:
    • Manages 31 open space preserves throughout San Diego County totaling nearly 1900 acres.
    • Is set to acquire 5 additional preserves totaling over 660 acres.
    • Has included trails within or around 11 preserves.
    • Is approved by California Fish and Wildlife to hold and manage mitigation lands.
    • Is accredited by the Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization; the only organization headquartered in San Diego County to have this accreditation.

After working on this proposal and negotiations with SANDAG staff, Caltrans staff, and the community for the last four years, both the SDHC staff and Board of Directors are professionally and emotionally invested in Rancho Lilac. Not only is SDHC well-qualified and positioned to manage natural resources, but our team is also passionate about land conservation and improvement and eager to get to work.

We are asking SANDAG’s Board of Directors to approve SDHC’s contract and solicitation for the long-term management of Rancho Lilac.

We urge you to send your emails no later than 9:00 a.m. on Friday, October 23. Below is a sample email which you can copy and paste. However, we encourage you to use your own voice and personalize the message.

Subject line: SANDAG Board Meeting, Item #13, October 23, 2020

I am writing to urge you to approve the transfer of Rancho Lilac to the San Diego Habitat Conservancy (SDHC), the qualified land manager that SANDAG chose in 2017 through a fair and open procurement process.

Rancho Lilac was purchased as biological mitigation for the impacts of highway construction.  It must be managed to serve its intended purpose. SDHC will properly balance public access, including trails, with protecting underlying species and habitat objectives. It is time to stop further delay and approve the transfer of Rancho Lilac to SDHC.

Send it to:

Please cc the SANDAG Executive Director and Board Members:;;;;;;;;;;;;,;;;;;

If you live in El Cajon and would like to send an email to your representative on SANDAG’s Board, Mayor Bill Wells, please go to the following URL to easily complete and send an email:

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