Map shows Lakeside Downs area east of Miramar and west of Route 67. Courtesy SANDAG
Map shows Lakeside Downs area east of Miramar, north of Santee and west of Lakeside. Courtesy SANDAG

SANDAG and the Defense Department jointly funded the purchase of a 410-acre site west of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to be set aside as a habitat for endangered species.

The property, known as Lakeside Downs, is coastal sage scrub habitat that is home to the threatened California gnatcatcher and extensive stands of spiny redberry, host plant for the rare Hermes Copper Butterfly.

The property was purchased from a local developer and will be owned by the Endangered Habitats Conservancy, which manages some 5,000 acres of conserved lands in California.

“Conservation of the Lakeside Downs property moves us closer to meeting that aspiration and ensuring that the globally significant ecosystems of San Diego County and Southern California will persist into the future,” said Michael Beck, executive officer of the conservancy,

SANDAG contribued $4 million though its mitigation program, which supports environmental conservation to offset the impact of highway projects in the county. The Defense Department contributed an equal amount from a fund that is used to prevent development near bases that can restrict military activities.

“Lakeside Downs is the 34th open space acquisition that SANDAG has helped to complete through the TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program. Thanks to the voter-approved TransNet program, we’ve preserved nearly 3,800 acres of important natural resources to date,” SANDAG Chair and Santee City Council member Jack Dale said.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.