Nature Conservancy purchases 2,100-acre Rancho Cuyamaca

Acquisition will help protect water quality for the San Diego region.

provided by The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy of California has announced its recent purchase of a historic ranch on the northern edge of the Cuyamaca Reservoir. By protecting the biologically important ranch from development, the Conservancy is also helping safeguard the region's water supply.

    Known both as Rancho Cuyamaca and the Tulloch Ranch, the approximately 2,100-acre property features unusually diverse wildlife habitats that are home to mountain lions, golden eagles, bobcats, deer, the California spotted owl, and rare and sensitive plants.

    Rancho Cuyamaca contains the important watershed that feeds Cuyamaca Reservoir. Cuyamaca Reservoir serves residents of the cities of La Mesa, El Cajon, Lemon Grove and parts of the unincorporated area. Releases from the reservoir flow down Boulder Creek to the San Diego River and onward to El Capitan Reservoir, a major source of drinking water for the City of San Diego.

    “Putting the ranch under conservation management, as The Nature Conservancy will do, will protect the watershed from degradation and enhance the chances that San Diegans in the future will continue to live in an area rich in wildlife and natural open spaces,” stated San Diego County Project Director Ann Van Leer.

    Much of the conservation value of Rancho Cuyamaca derives from its high-quality aquatic resources, including freshwater seeps, wetlands, vernal pools, intermittent streams, and montane wet meadows. Because of the critical need to protect drinking water sources, The Nature Conservancy received a loan from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to acquire the property. The transaction closed on January 16, 2002.

    “This key purchase provides a myriad of natural resource benefits, including watershed protection,” said SWRCB Chair Art Baggett. “The Board is glad we could help The Nature Conservancy make this purchase.”

    “San Diegans place a high value on fresh water and the protection of our natural areas,” said Van Leer. “We very much appreciate the State Water Resources Control Board's help in this transaction.”

    Rancho Cuyamaca also occupies a strategic location in a growing network of protected open spaces in San Diego County's backcountry. The ranch is six miles south of the community of Julian and close to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, which abuts the south shore of Cuyamaca Reservoir. It is adjacent to the Lucky Five Ranch, which adjoins Cuyamaca Rancho and Anza-Borrego State Parks. The private Anza-Borrego Foundation recently purchased about two-thirds of the Lucky Five Ranch and resold it to the California Department of Parks and Recreation for inclusion in the state park system.

    Rancho Cuyamaca has been used as a cattle ranch throughout much of its history. George Sawday, great-grandfather of Margaret Alice Tulloch, purchased the property in 1943. It has been held in the family since then and used as a cattle ranch.

    Rancho Cuyamaca was a high-priority acquisition of The Nature Conservancy's San Diego County Project. The Nature Conservancy has preserved more than 13,000 acres of important wild lands in San Diego County.

    The Nature Conservancy is an international nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy and its more than 1,000,000 members nationwide have safeguarded more than 12 million acres in all 50 states and Canada. The Conservancy has also worked with the like-minded partner organizations to preserve more than 80 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Asia. The California Regional Office is the Conservancy's largest state chapter and a leader in program development. Headquartered in San Francisco, The Nature Conservancy of California has 125,000 members and has protected more than one million acres in the state.