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A note from the Executive Director.
It is with rejoiceful lament that I get to announce that our founding and longest serving Board member has decided to step down. Dave Claycomb founded our organization more than 20 years ago and since that time has continually served on the Board, with several as Board President. He was instrumental in crafting SDHC’s Mission and strategic plan, guiding the organization though some tough times as well as the good, and has been a major contributor and shaper of the solid organization that SDHC has become. SDHC’s staff and Board would sincerely like to thank Dave for his vision and contribution over the years. We truly would not be here without him. Dave, although semi-retired, will remain busy with work and volunteer positions with two other non-profits with missions close to his heart, Legacies of War and San Diego Botanic Garden We’ll miss Dave and his level-headed guidance but will still see him at social events. Thanks again Dave for your many years of contribution and guidance to SDHC and the communities we serve.
California Gnatcatcher Updates
2022 was a busy year monitoring for the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher (CAGN), with nine of SDHC's preserves requiring protocol surveys this breeding season. With their assistance to the City of Carlsbad, Environmental Science Associates performed CAGN surveys for the Emerald Pointe Preserve, while SDHC staff conducted surveys on the Carlsbad Raceway, Mission Vista High School (Offsite), Muroya, Quarry Creek, Rancho Coronado, Sierra Ridge, Sweetwater Vistas, and Vallecitos Ridge Preserves.

CAGN were detected on all nine preserves, including pairs of males and females, individuals, and nestlings. Surveys were performed to enumerate CAGN found within and near each preserve and to assess for breeding activities such as nest building, mating displays, and even foraging to feed nestlings. Pictured above is a breeding adult male observed at the Rancho Coronado Preserve and to the left is an adult female on her nest in the Carlsbad Raceway Preserve. SDHC will continue to monitor for this sensitive bird species and protect the habitats to ensure its existence.
Volunteer Highlights
SDHC regularly works with members of the public that wish to join SDHC in the field. Volunteers join habitat managers on monitoring visits to learn about San Diego's local ecosystems, as well as conservation activities to improve the condition of the habitat preserves. Here are several of the events from the past recent months that have helped make significant impacts on the preserves.
As part of I Love A Clean San Diego's Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup, SDHC partnered the past April with the City of Oceanside and Preserve Calavera to host a volunteer cleanup at the Quarry Creek Preserve. Volunteers showed up to help remove over 1,200 pounds of manmade waste from within the riparian habitat. The majority of this waste had been brought in by trespassers squatting within the preserve. SDHC continues to deter unauthorized access and plans for additional volunteer cleanup events in the future.

Over the past several months, numerous high school and college students worked with SDHC on focused internships to satisfy academic requirements while assisting with our land management and conservation activities. Interns accompanied habitat managers on monitoring patrols, special species surveys, and maintenance events, often while completing an individual project. Recent interns included: Bryce Ohmstede and Nolan Seamster from San Diego State University; Elizabeth Dolan, Flora Fuentes, Haider Rangwalla, and Rebecca Dayton from University of California, San Diego; and David Spires, Kellen Kim, and Trueman Hicks from High Tech High School. A huge thanks to all of you for your contributions! We truly enjoyed working with you all and wish you the best with your future endeavors.

Volunteers joined us at the Ramona Grasslands Conservation Bank in May to help plant over 600 Indian milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa) plantings. SDHC performed this planting activity in order to increase the availability of resources for native pollinator species, especially the sensitive monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Milkweed is the required host plant for the monarch caterpillar, as this insect is adapted to eating this plant material for its essential nutrients.
New Preserve
Early this year SDHC initiated long-term management of the 28.8-acre Sweetwater Vistas Preserve. Comprised of three parcels, this preserve is located west of Sweetwater Springs Boulevard and north and south of Jamacha Boulevard in the community of Spring Valley. 

The Preserve contains a mix of native and nonnative vegetation communities, including coastal sage scrub, southern willow scrub, freshwater marsh, eucalyptus woodland, tamarisk scrub, and non-native grassland. This habitat is home to a diversity of plant and wildlife species, including the following sensitive species: San Diego marsh-elder, San Diego County sunflower, ashy spike-moss, California gnatcatcher, least Bell's vireo, and yellow warbler.

SDHC management duties include monthly monitoring and security patrols, with a focus on controlling invasive plant species and preventing trespassing, performing focused surveys for sensitive species, and conducting outreach with neighboring residents.
Burrowing Owl Re-Establishment Update 
As you may have read in our April 2022 Newsletter, it has been more than 30 years since the Ramona grasslands ecosystem has seen a self-sustaining colony of the Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia ssp. hypugaea). This species is a California Species of Special Concern and federally listed Bird of Conservation Concern and SDHC is  helping to bring the populations back!!   

During the spring of 2021 and 2022 a total of 40 burrowing owls were brought to the Ramona Grasslands Conservation Bank. Some of these birds have stayed onsite, and along with the known successful fledglings, more than 40 individuals have been added to the population. Due to the potential treat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 Disease, the planned release of additional birds that was scheduled for the spring of 2023 will be moved up to October of 2022. We have our fingers crossed that the birds will stay to nest in 2023.  
Don Scoles, Executive Director
Kathleen Pollett, Senior Conservation Habitat Manager
Vince Rivas, Conservation Habitat Manager
Connie Winterstein Acquisition Program Manager

Connie Koros, Accountant
Mary Applon, Bookkeeper

Join us! SDHC has a volunteer opportunities in a variety of areas!
See our website for details.
Donate to SDHC Today!
Our efforts to preserve native habitat and biodiversity in southern California can only be accomplished with the support of donations. As a dedicated supporter, you are helping to preserve those spaces that are unique to our region and you are helping to ensure that future generations may enjoy the same beauty that never ceases to astound and inspire us.
Please make your voice heard by donating today!
Go to to donate. Make a minimum $35 donation and receive a SDHC t-shirt with our newly designed logo.

Other Ways to Support SDHC
Support SDHC when shopping at Rite Aid
  • Visit and complete the online form
  • Each time you make a prescription refill, a portion of your purchase will automatically go towards a donation fund for SDHC
  • No additional purchase necessary!
AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to SDHC. 
 Now your sales on eBay (and other websites) can help support SDHC. Just click on the "eBay for Charity" logo above to start donating a percentage of your sales directly to SDHC.   

We are now enrolled in the Paypal Giving Fund! Donate through the link above and 100% of your donation will go directly to SDHC!
2900 Fourth Ave., Suite 200, San Diego, CA  92103
Phone: (619) 365-4839 ~ Email:

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