2013 Fire Workshop

This task involves organizing and hosting a Wildland Fire Workshop focused on Southern California and landscape level fires occurring in the last decade. This workshop brought together land managers, researchers, and fire management personnel to continue the discussions on the topic of wildland fire impacts to at risk natural resources. The purpose of the workshop was to present, collaborate, and plan wildland fire-related research, management, responses, and future recovery as it applies to the fire risk for natural resources of San Diego County.

2021-2026 Rare Plant Regional Discovery Surveys

Starting in 2021, surveys were conducted on suitable habitat on Conserved Lands to document whether historic plant occurrences were extant and to discover new occurrences for rare plant species. The purpose of these surveys is to refine and update the distribution of these plants in the Management and Monitoring Strategic Plan Area. Voucher specimens and photographs are taken for each occurrence. Some species are already part of the Rare Plant Inspect and Manage Program and any new occurrences for these species will be included in future monitoring. In the next update of the Management and Monitoring Strategic Plan (2027), species not formerly monitored will be evaluated and potentially added to the Rare Plant Inspect and Manage Program. Botanists surveyed for four rare plant species in 2021: San Diego coastalcreeper (Aphanisma blitoides), Blochman's dudleya (Dudleya blochmaniae), coast wallflower (Erysimum ammophilum), and Orcutt's bird's-beak (Dicranostegia orcuttiana). In 2022, botanists surveyed for: San Diego coastalcreeper (Aphanisma blitoides), Baja California oat grass (Sphenopholis interrupta ssp californica), San Diego ambrosia (Abrosia pumila), Wiggins' cryptantha (Crytantha wigginsii). In 2023, botanists will survey for five rare plant species: Deane's milkvetch (Astragalus deanei), Parish brittlescale (Atriplex parishii), Mexican flannelbush (Fremontodendron mexicanum), Jennifer's monardella (Monardella stoneana ), and small-leaved rose (Rosa minutifolia).

Adaptive Management of Coastal Sand Dunes in Mission Bay to Benefit Native Plants and the CA Least Tern

San Diego Audubon has been leading efforts to restore coastal sand dunes in Mission Bay for decades, largely focused on supporting nesting California Least Terns (Sternula antillarum browni), and rare and endangered sand dune plants such as Nuttall's Lotus (Acmispon prostratus) and Coast Wooly Head (Nemacaulis denudata). The primary threat to these species is the presence of fast-growing, nonnative vegetation, which takes up space that Least Terns require for nesting, and outcompetes native dune plants. Volunteer-led hand management of these sites has resulted in a dramatic reduction in invasive cover, and bi-annual vegetation monitoring has revealed that hand management is a more effective strategy in reducing nonnative growth than the more traditional mechanized scraping and broadcast herbicide application strategies. These results are being used to inform year-to-year site management, and to create longterm strategies for managing coastal dunes in Mission Bay.

American Badger Movement Studies

In fiscal year 2011-2012, the NCCP LAG program funded an initial study to determine if badgers persisted in the western portion of San Diego County (Brehme et al. 2012). Canine scent surveys were performed in grasslands within MSCP/Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP) boundaries and nearby areas. Because badgers do persist within the western portion of the county, they are believed to be a suitable species for assessing upland connectivity by means of radio-telemetry. In order to determine what areas to target badgers for future radiotelemetry studies, the objectives of this study were to identify target areas with potentially higher densities of badgers and to better assess the level of connectivity between known occupied areas. Plans also were to survey some high priority areas that were not available for investigation during the initial study. In addition, SANDAG funded; 1) an American badger expert, Richard Klafki, R.P. Bio, to consult in field sign and burrow surveys, the set up and use of hair snares, and share ideas regarding movement of badgers across the fragmented landscape, 2) deployment of hair snags and infrared cameras in areas where active badger sign was found, and 3) development of a microsatellite genetic assay for individual badgers will be developed by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and validated on known samples.

Umbrella Project
American Badger Research and Monitoring

Badgers have been identified by the San Diego Monitoring and Management Program Connectivity Monitoring Strategic Plan as a target species for monitoring regional-scale functional connectivity of upland and grassland habitats. However, prior to these studies there was little information on badger distribution, movement, or habitat use within San Diego County. In 2011, the California Department of Fish and Game Local Assistance Grant funded an initial study to determine if badgers still persist in the western portion of San Diego County. Canine scent surveys were conducted for American badger scat from November 14-December 14, 2011. Thirty-two sites in San Diego County and two sites in southern Riverside County were surveyed. The scent dog had positive behavioral responses to scat at 13 sites, and a badger specific DNA test verified the scat collected at twelve sites. A recommendation from the 2011 study led researchers to develop a microsatellite DNA test to identify individual animals from scat. This would allow for estimation of minimum population sizes in areas with multiple scats. In 2014, a follow up study was conducted to the initial 2011 rapid assessment for the American badger. The objectives were to identify target areas with potentially higher densities of badgers and to better assess the level of connectivity between known occupied areas. Thirty canine scent surveys for badger scat were conducted. This study involved: 1) additional focused surveys to identify areas occupied by badgers, and 2) determination of the number of badgers at various locations using genetic tests of scat or hair to identify individuals. In 2015, researchers continued studies of the spatial and temporal use of habitats by the American badger by conducting monthly field sign and infrared camera surveys across seven focal sites in the County where we previously documented substantial and/or repeated badger activity. The objective was to determine if badger use is irregular, seasonal, or consistent. American badgers were active at two of the seven focal sites in 2015, the upper San Diego River at El Capitan Grande Reservation and Rancho Guejito. From 2011 to present, researchers established that the American badger currently occupies or uses conserved lands within MSCP and MHCP and many other portions of the county.

Reserve Connectivity for Focal Species: American Badger

An assessment of which areas within and adjacent to the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) are occupied by American badger and would be suitable for further study of connectivity for badger. The Connectivity Monitoring Strategic Plan (CMSP) lists badgers as a priority for functional connectivity monitoring. The objective of this study was to identify badger locations in San Diego using canine scent detection. This method is advantageous in that large areas can be surveyed, in relatively little time, for badger scat, yielding information on badger home range locations and habitat usage within the county. This information will be utilized in future years to implement subsequent portions of the CMSP priority 1 connectivity monitoring of badgers which will analyze badger movement using radio telemetry techniques.

An Adaptive Management Approach to Recovering Burrowing Owl Populations and Restoring a Grassland Ecosystem in San Diego County

San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR), in partnership with multiple agencies, has developed an adaptive conservation management program to assist in the recovery of Western Burrowing Owls (BUOW; Athene cunicularia hypugaea) and their grassland ecosystem in San Diego County. Main objectives include (1) establishing more natural grassland ecosystems in San Diego County by re-establishing ground squirrels that provide critical resources for BUOW and valuable ecosystem engineering effects; (2) better understanding of the factors regulating BUOW population dynamics; (3) developing a comprehensive strategic management plan for BUOW in San Diego County; and (4) implementing the strategic management plan to begin establishing additional breeding nodes of burrowing owls. In 2017 ICR partnered with SDMMP to make publicly available a BUOW Conservation and Management Plan for San Diego County. This is a living document developed with input from local, state, and federal wildlife agencies, and will continue to be updated in the future.

Umbrella Project
An Adaptive Management Approach to Recovering Burrowing Owl Populations and Restoring a Grassland Ecosystem in San Diego County

San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR), in partnership with multiple agencies, has developed an adaptive conservation management program to assist in the recovery of Western Burrowing Owls (BUOW; Athene cunicularia hypugaea) and their grassland ecosystem in San Diego County. Main objectives include (1) establishing more natural grassland ecosystems in San Diego County by re-establishing ground squirrels that provide critical resources for BUOW and valuable ecosystem engineering effects; (2) better understanding of the factors regulating BUOW population dynamics; (3) developing a comprehensive strategic management plan for BUOW in San Diego County; and (4) implementing the strategic management plan to begin establishing additional breeding nodes of burrowing owls. In 2017 ICR partnered with SDMMP to make publicly available a BUOW Conservation and Management Plan for San Diego County. This is a living document developed with input from local, state, and federal wildlife agencies, and will continue to be updated in the future.

Burrowing Owl Pellet Examination

Student interns at SDSU examined owl pellets to determine prey content. This task feeds into a larger objective of an adaptive management approach to recovering burrowing owl populations and habitat in southern San Diego County.

Burrowing Owl Recovery- Camera Traps

An adaptive management approach to recovering burrowing owl populations and restoring a grassland ecosystem in San Diego County; camera trapping at burrowing owl nest entrances; productivity; reproductive success; predation; prey; foraging

Anstine-Audubon Nature Preserve Fencing Project

The goal of this project was to install 855 linear feet of lodge pole fencing along the northern boundary of San Diego Audubon Society’s (SDAS’s) 11.6-acre Anstine-Audubon Nature Preserve (Anstine) in Vista, CA to combat hazardous and non-hazardous dumping and illegal trespassing. The addition of fencing along the northern portion of the property, adjacent to Hidden Lake Lane, will protect the fragile riparian, oak woodland, and endangered coastal sage scrub habitats on the preserve. Urban Corps of San Diego, with SDAS oversight, successfully installed an 855-foot long, five-foot high lodge pole wooden fence along with three access gates on the property in the planned one-year project. Project Start Date: March 7, 2023 Project Completion Date: January 18, 2024 This project was fully funded by SANDAG TransNet EMP Land Management Grant #S1125499

Arroyo Toad Monitoring and Management
Umbrella Project
Arroyo Toad Monitoring and Management

The USGS has been studying known areas occupied by toads since 1998 and investigating new localities. USGS will inspect all known areas occupied by toads to identify threats and stressors and in particular identify initial Management actions for implementation. Additionally disease screening and genetic samples will be collected at all sites where toads are detected for future analysis. USGS will hold a workshop for land managers to train them how to implement appropriate management during the breeding and tadpole presence period.

Artesian Creek Restoration

Approximately 300 acres along Artesian Creek, a tributary of the San Dieguito River, was restored to coastal sage or native riparian. The majority of restored land was previously used for grazing, with an additional two miles of riparian habitat. The project is located between Camino Del Sur and Del Dios Highway, just south and southwest of Lake Hodges. The restoration has been completed, but annual treatment of invasive species remains including ongoing treatment of eucalyptus, tamarix and palms. The focal invasive species included: mustard, French broom, Scotch broom, Spanish Fleabane, arundo, Austrailian salt bush, Brazilian Pepper, caster bean, lapidium latifolia, garland chrysanthemum, bridal creeper, Italian thistle, fountain grass, dittrichia graveolens, artichoke, eucalyptus, tree tobacco, acacia, palms, pampas grass, pride of Maderia, tamarix, and fennel.

Arthropod Ecosystem Functioning

Assess how habitat and landscape characteristics impact ecosystem functioning.

Arundo Treatment in San Luis Rey, Santa Margarita, and San Dieguito Watersheds

This project is a three-year re-treatment/control of Arundo in order to obtain 100% eradication in the San Luis Rey and Santa Margarita watershed. This project will also fund the first round of re-treatments on over half of the San Dieguito watershed. Mission Resource Conservation District will coordinate this project with San Diego River Partners to ensure work is not duplicated in the San Diego River Valley. Additionally any cut or chipped material will be removed from the project sites. Finally, re-treatment is included for the city of San Diego property currently mapped as not included in re-treatment areas.

Bat Community Monitoring 2002-2019

We compiled bat survey data from sampling sites throughout San Diego County in southern California from 2002-2019. Survey methods included ANABAT bat detectors, the unaided ear, day roost surveys and exit counts, and night roost surveys. All surveys were led by or included D. Stokes. Surveys were conducted with permission from private landowners and public land managers in areas where species were historically known or had the potential to occur based on habitat preferences. The study area in which surveys were conducted, San Diego County, spans a wide array of habitat types, including woodland, forest, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and desert habitats, and apart from the desert, is generally characterized by a moderate Mediterranean climate. Elevation across San Diego County ranges from sea level along the coast to nearly 2,000 m in the mountains.

Bernardo Mountain Post-Fire Habitat Recovery

The overall goal of the habitat enhancement project is to connect patches of native vegetation in order to function as a larger block of habitat and expand areas of high quality coastal sage scrub. The project consists of the restoration of an approximately 1-acre site that was chosen based upon its location next to an area where sensitive species have been documented, the existence of reemerging coastal sage scrub, close proximity to existing stands of healthy stands of native vegetation, need for erosion control, and reasonable access.

Umbrella Project
Bernardo Mountain Post-Fire Habitat Recovery Project

Bernardo Mountain is located north of Lake Hodges, west of I-15. The primary goal of this habitat conservation project is to protect the habitat of the federally listed coastal California gnatcatcher, as well as other listed and sensitive animal species such as coastal cactus wren and sensitive plant and wildlife species that are covered under the Multiple Habitat Conservation Plan ("MHCP").

Blaineville's Horned Lizard Genetics Study

The proposed study will provide data on whether coast horned lizard populations are genetically interconnected across the NCCP reserve system, or whether gene flow has occurred recently but is no longer possible due to habitat fragmentation.

Blue Sky Ecological Reserve Fire Restoration and Invasive Removal

Blue Sky Ecological Reserve burned in 2007. In 2008, restoration focused on the removal of Castor bean, mustard, tree tobacco palms, dittrichia, fountain grass, acacia, cape ivy, tamarix and pampas grass. Major restoration efforts concluded after 3 years. Maintenance has continued with the treatment of Castor bean and Italian thistle.

Brachypodium Control - Phase I and II

This project used a science-based, experimental approach to develop treatment and restoration strategies for the emerging invasive grass, Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium), on conserved lands in southern San Diego County, CA. Phase I (2013-2015) included conceptual models to inform experimentally-based treatment and restoration strategies; experimental treatments (dethatching, herbicide, mechanical removal), monitoring, and seed collection, bulking, and outplanting. Treatments continued in Phase II (2016-2017), using the most effective management strategy (herbicide). See the Phase I and II reports for study results and Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Brachypodium control. Herbicide is the most effective treatment for controlling Brachypodium but timing of treatment is critical and multiple treatments may be required in a single year, depending on rainfall and temperature. Herbicide treatment of forbs becomes increasingly important as cover of Brachypodium and other nonnative grasses decrease. Dethatching improves treatment effectiveness and stimulates the soil seedbank (if present). The experimental design was coordinated with SDMMP and the City of San Diego, and results may contribute to a regional analysis of Brachypodium control across multiple sites, habitats, and microclimates.

Burrowing Owl Artificial Burrow Surveys- CDFW 2010- 2012

Artificial burrows for the western burrowing owl were surveyed in 2010, 2011, and 2012 by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Each burrow was surveyed for evidence of burrowing owl use. Types of evidence included whitewash, prey remains, feathers, pellets, or visual confirmation of the species. Burrows with strong or multiple types of evidence were marked as used by burrowing owls. Maintenance needs were also recorded for each burrow. Survey results:

Burrowing Owl Monitoring Analysis and Protocol

The overall purpose of this study was to evaluate the methodology of the 2010 burrowing owl survey protocol. The specific purpose of the analysis presented here is to use data collected according to the burrowing owl monitoring protocol to estimate occupancy for both burrowing owls and California ground squirrels within the sample frame. The expected detection probability for owls was much lower than anticipated. In general, efforts should be made in future studies to increase detection probability for both owls and squirrels. Possible ways to improve detection include (a) better training of field personnel, (b) more consistent application of the monitoring protocols, (c) changes in the protocol such as the number of visits per site or the time spent at a site during each visit, and (d) improved field equipment and consistent used of the same equipment. If this work is to be repeated in the future, the monitoring protocol should more clearly describe the method for collecting ground squirrel data. Habitat covariates associated with suitable burrowing owl habitat were not able to be identified. In the future, conceptual models need to be developed to guide data collection and analysis, with attention to the spatial and temporal scale of the covariates related to habitat suitability.

Burrowing Owl Monitoring and Adaptive Management

Our objective was to implement short-term treatments, including squirrel translocation, to re-establish key ecological processes on protected reserve lands. We manipulated vegetation and squirrels in a replicated, large-scale field experiment for two years, and monitored through a minimum of three years. Vegetation mowing and soil decompaction treatments reduced grass density and thatch depth. Squirrel translocation accelerated squirrel settlement and activity in target sites. Of the more than 1000 burrow entrances remaining through the third year, nearly all burrows were concentrated in the plots that received squirrel translocation. Noteworthy and persistent engineering effects were achieved through squirrel activity, and both vegetation management and squirrel re-establishment were needed to stimulate squirrel activity. The overarching goal of this experiment was to provide conservation managers with a cost-effective tool for restoring degraded habitats to a hybrid ecosystem state with improved suitability for species of conservation concern, in this case western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea).

Cactus Fungal Pathogen (Alternaria sp.)

This page provides information on the cactus dieback that was recently (2021) discovered on cactus (Opuntia littoralis) at a nursery in San Pasqual Valley and one restoration site sourced with the nursery cactus in Bandy Canyon. Recent findings from the Department of Plant Pathology, UC Davis pathogenicity tests show that the most frequent fungal species on the diseased cactus are a variety of Alternaria species. The plant pathology lab will next conduct greenhouse experiments to evaluate the effect of environmental factors such as humidity and water availability on disease severity. Information from this study will be used to develop best management practices for land mangers.

Cactus Wren Genetic Analysis

An analysis of the genetic population structure of the coastal cactus wren was conducted by the USGS. This project included three sub-projects: 1) Historical Museum Samples; 2) Regional Genetic Study; and 3) San Diego Genetic Study

Umbrella Project
Cactus Wren Genetic Analysis - Historical Museum Samples

The purpose of this study is to gather genetic data from museum samples collected in the early 1900s to compare levels of genetic diversity and population structure to present day estimates. From this analysis, USGS hopes to determine whether there has been an increase in population genetic differentiation and a loss of genetic diversity in Southern California Cactus Wrens over the past century, and to quantify these changes. Results will help inform potential management actions such as choosing source populations for re-establishment and augmentation. This project will consist of the following objectives:1) Develop protocols for DNA extraction and amplification of historical museum samples for microsatellite loci; 2) Travel to museums in California to retrieve tissue from relevant museum specimens; 3) Genotype samples, analyze patterns of genetic differentiation and diversity, and prepare a report comparing past to present population genetic structure.

Cactus Wren Genetic Study - Regional

This study analyzes genetic population structure in the cactus wren throughout coastal southern California using microsatellite markers developed specifically for this species. It expands upon a previous study focused in Orange and San Diego Counties (Barr et al. 2012), adding cactus wren samples from Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. Additional samples from Palos Verdes and West Coyote Hills were included in the original dataset in an addendum to the study. With this full dataset, we characterize the current population genetic structure to provide information on levels of gene flow throughout the cactus wren's range in coastal southern California. We also analyze genetic diversity and recent demographic change over the study area. Understanding these patterns will aid in management of current cactus wren populations and future efforts in habitat restoration.

Cactus Wren Genetic Study - San Diego and Orange County

Among the possible consequences of fragmentation for cactus wren viability is genetic isolation, which could lead to loss of genetic variability and ability to adapt to changing environments. In 2011, USGS scientists Barbara Kus and Amy Vandergast initiated a collaborative study to examine genetic population structure of coastal cactus wrens throughout their southern California range. In this study, researchers describe genetic connectivity in the coastal cactus wren in San Diego County. To gain a broader perspective, they also obtained samples from the Nature Reserve of orange County, where many of the remaining coastal cactus wrens are found in that county. These data provide excellent resolution for describing current population structure in the species, reveal the gene flow regime, and provide insight on current levels of genetic diversity within populations. Understanding these patterns will aid in management of current coastal cactus wrens populations and future efforts in habitat restoration. From this study, scientists found coastal cactus wrens to be highly isolated from one another in their southern California range(Barr et al. 2015). These results prompted management actions to attempt to restore connectivity among cactus wren populations, including habitat protection and restoration. The goal of Subtask 4.2 is to repeat the 2011 genetics study in the Otay, Sweetwater/San Diego and San Pasqual Valley genetic clusters. Specifically, the objectives are to: 1) Determine whether genetic diversity and effective population size have changed in the intervening 6 years with management to increase cactus scrub and improve connectivity, or in response to drought-associated population declines. 2)Prepare recommendations for managing gene flow and/or population expansion to enhance genetic diversity and effective population size.

Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan

The Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan has been prepared to help fulfill MSP Goals and Objectives established for management of the Coastal Cactus Wren in MU3. This plan identifies and prioritizes management and restoration needs for the cactus wren across the entire MU3, and also assesses connectivity to core habitat areas on Conserved Lands within the San Diego/El Cajon cactus wren genetic cluster in MUs 2 and 4 to further ensure persistence of the cactus wren in MU3 over the next 100 years.

Umbrella Project
Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan

The Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan has been prepared to help fulfill MSP Goals and Objectives established for management of the Coastal Cactus Wren in MU3. This plan identifies and prioritizes management and restoration needs for the cactus wren across the entire MU3, and also assesses connectivity to core habitat areas on Conserved Lands within the San Diego/El Cajon cactus wren genetic cluster in MUs 2 and 4 to further ensure persistence of the cactus wren in MU3 over the next 100 years.

North County Cactus Nursery and Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration (2015-2018)

The primary goal of this three-year project was to support the restoration and recovery of cactus wren (CACW) populations in the San Pasqual Valley/Lake Hodges region and other locations identified in coordination with the South San Diego County Coastal Cactus Wren Conservation Implementation Plan. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research sought to aid the recovery of this species through 1) the creation of additional cactus wren habitat through large scale prickly pear propagation and 2) the removal of invasive plant species from new and existing cactus wren habitat. We established a cactus nursery that supplied 8056 locally sourced cacti to restoration projects throughout the region from 2015-2018. We also conducted extensive removal of invasive species at two major centers of cactus wren habitat: Lake Hodges and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Biodiversity Reserve. This project provided wide ranging benefits to coastal cactus wren conservation not only by providing large-scale habitat restoration and management across the region, but also by documenting experiences and lessons learned during the development of the cactus nursery which can serve as a guide for the future establishment of other large scale cactus nurseries. We document herein the data collected from our propagation, restoration, invasive species removal efforts, and a propagation protocol which describes the methods we used for cactus propagation and nursery establishment.

Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration

Brief synopsis of our cactus scrub restoration methodology: 1. Selected proposed restoration areas that were CSS pre-Harris fire, on south or southwest-facing slopes, in San Miguel Exchequer rocky silt loam. Polygons totaled 50 ha. Essentially

Cactus Wren Occupancy Study and Cactus Patch Mapping

Given the extent and severity of the 2003 and 2007 wildfires in San Diego County there is an increase cause for concern in understanding the amount of available habitat and the percent of that habitat that is occupied by the coastal cactus wren. The USFWS has developed and refined a protocol for conducting coastal cactus wren monitoring. USFWS tested the protocol by completing surveys in 2009 and 2010. All southwest and southeast facing slopes below 1,500 feet, within San Diego MSCP preserve lands, were mapped for the occurrence of cactus patches. Once cactus patches were mapped in GIS, these patches were segmented into plots and surveyed for cactus wrens.

Umbrella Project
Cactus Wren Occupancy Study and Cactus Patch Mapping

Given the extent and severity of the 2003 and 2007 wildfires in San Diego County there is an increase cause for concern in understanding the amount of available habitat and the percent of that habitat that is occupied by the coastal cactus wren. The USFWS has developed and refined a protocol for conducting coastal cactus wren monitoring. USFWS tested the protocol by completing surveys in 2009 and 2010. All southwest and southeast facing slopes below 1,500 feet, within San Diego MSCP preserve lands, were mapped for the occurrence of cactus patches. Once cactus patches were mapped in GIS, these patches were segmented into plots and surveyed for cactus wrens.

Calavera Preserve Planning Area Access Control and Habitat Restoration Project

The Restoration Project was implemented in accordance with the Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub Restoration Plan, TransNet EMP Grant Project: Calavera Preserve Planning Area (Restoration Plan), which was prepared by Technology Associates, Inc. (TAIC) (Aug. 24, 2009). The goal of the project was to restore 5 acres of non-native grassland habitat to Diegan coastal sage scrub that is (a) self-sustaining, (b) suitable habitat for the California gnatcatcher, and (3) free of non-native invasive species that could invade adjacent native habitat. In addition to habitat restoration, the City of Carlsbad had an active public outreach program highlighting the benefits of natural open spaces throughout the city.

California Gnatcatcher Genetic Study
Umbrella Project
California Gnatcatcher Genetic Study - FundSource 1 and 2

We examined individual relatedness patterns and population genetic structure among gnatcatcher aggregations throughout coastal southern California from Ventura to San Diego Counties. To accomplish this goal, we developed a set of highly polymorphic microsatellite loci and sampled 268 individuals throughout the range. With genetic analyses we addressed the following questions:1) How many genetically distinguishable populations exist across the U.S. species range?2) Is genetic relatedness among individuals explained by the amount and distribution of suitable habitat?3) What is the range of dispersal distances between presumptive siblings and parents/offspring?4) What are the patterns of genetic diversity within aggregations across the U.S. range and what is the effective population size?5) How do these results impact future management and monitoring efforts aimed at species recovery?

California Gnatcatcher Post-Fire Study

This is a planned 5-year study. The purpose of this study is to: 1) Determine whether there has been further recovery of CAGN in areas burned in 2003 (i.e., occupancy greater than 10%). 2) Determine if there is a difference in CAGN occupancy between areas burned in 2003, 2007, and 2014. 3) Determine the relationship between CAGN occupancy and vegetation composition, cover and structure. 4) Determine the composition, cover, and structure of CSS vegetation in areas with different fire histories and evaluate patterns of vegetation recovery based upon lime since fire, spatial distribution, previous land use, and environmental conditions.

California Gnatcatcher South Coast Regional Monitoring Program

The USGS, USFWS, SDMMP, and the Nature Reserve of Orange County have joined together to develop a long-term coordinated regional monitoring program for the federally-threatened Coastal California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) in the United States portion of the species range. Other participants include CDFW, The Nature Conservancy, Western Riverside RCA, Rancho Mission Viejo Conservancy, Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook, Marine Corp Base Camp Pendleton, Marine Corp Air Station Miramar. The goals of this program are to: 1) determine the population status of California Gnatcatchers in southern California on conserved and military lands; 2) track trends in California Gnatcatcher habitat occupancy over time in southern California to identify when thresholds have been met that trigger management actions; and 3) identify habitat attributes and threats associated with gnatcatcher occupancy in order to develop specific habitat-based management criteria and recommendations. To date, there have been no systematic surveys for this species across southern California. Surveys have been conducted periodically in portions of the gnatcatcher's range, particularly on conserved and military lands. However, these surveys have been conducted in different years and with a variety of methods providing different population metrics and as a result do not provide a region-wide estimate. In addition, during the last 15 years, there have been extremely large wildfires in southern California across a substantial portion of suitable habitat for gnatcatchers and there is little information on their status in these burned areas. The first regional Coastal California Gnatcatcher survey is scheduled for 2016. This survey is planned for conserved lands and those military lands in southern California that choose to participate. The objectives of the regional monitoring program are: 1. In 2016, determine the percent area occupied (PAO) by California Gnatcatchers in modeled high and very high suitability habitat on conserved lands and on participating military lands in southern California. 2. Over the next 15 years, determine long-term trends in California Gnatcatcher PAO and in their colonization and extinction rates in modeled high and very high suitability habitat on conserved lands and participating military lands in southern California and be able to detect at least 30% change in California Gnatcatcher PAO. 3. Beginning in 2016, identify associations between habitat and threat correlates with California Gnatcatcher PAO and with colonization and extinction rates in order to develop biologically meaningful thresholds for management and to specify management criteria and recommendations.

California Least Tern Predator Monitoring (Ternwatchers)

Volunteer-based predator monitoring program at the nesting sites in Mission Bay. Citizen scientists are trained to monitor nesting sites for predators from mid-April through late May, with the program concluding the end of September.

California Plant Rescue (CaPR) - San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's Native Plant Seed Bank

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's Native Plant Seed Bank - Center for Plant Conservation (CPC). Coordinated by the CPC, California Plant Rescue (CaPR) is a collaboration among many of the botanical gardens, seed banks, and botanical organizations in California to conserve the rarest and most threatened plant species throughout the state and northwestern Baja California. The purpose of CaPR is the long-term conservation of wild populations of these species through seed banking and fieldwork. The Native Plant Seed Bank has been working hard to make this possible by focusing on the rarest plant populations in San Diego County. This includes obtaining land manager permission, the locating of rare plant populations, monitoring population numbers and reproductive cycles and making a very responsible seed collection. The goal is to conserve the genetic diversity of the rarest populations in the county through the long term storage of these seed collections.

Carlsbad Hydrologic Unit Invasive Vegetation Control and Habitat Restoration Program

Project will implement two years of invasive plant re-treatments and limited new treatments throughout the Carlsbad Hydrologic Unit (CHU), two years of revegetation and habitat restoration, and detailed mapping of invasive plant infestation within the Core and Linkage Areas included in the Multiple Habitat Conservation Program Plan (2003).

Carlsbad Wildlife Movement Analysis

A study of wildlife movement within the Carlsbad's NCCP plan, known as the Habitat Management Plan (HMP). The HMP is the only approved subarea plan of the sub regional Multiple Habitat Conservation Plan (MHCP). A key objective of the HMP is to maintain functional wildlife corridors and habitat linkages within the city and to the region. An inventory of possible wildlife movement corridors and constraints, and an initial monitoring of key locations, is necessary to provide a baseline assessment of animal movement within the city and to begin evaluating the MHCP and HMP objectives. This Wildlife Movement Analysis Final Report is a summary of the methods and results of an inventory of potential wildlife movement corridors and pinch points within the City of Carlsbad.

Central City Preserve Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Program

Project Goals and Habitat Restoration Methods: (1) Increase coast cholla patch sizes and density within portions of the Central City Preserve to benefit populations of coastal cactus wrens; (2) Restore and enhance patches of coast cholla in a distribution pattern that facilitates dispersal of cactus wrens between areas of suitable habitat within PMA 1; (3) Proactive reduction of native and non-native fuels in the immediate vicinity of nesting sized coast cholla patches to decrease the risk of catastrophic fires that could eliminate wren habitat; (4) Restore habitat for coastal cactus wrens and other covered species, including coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) and Belding's orange-throated whiptail (Aspidoscelis hyperythra beldingi), in areas currently dominated by weeds; (5) Restore and enhance coastal cactus wren habitat through the selective thinning and removal of lemonadeberry, other native shrubs, and exotic annuals that are directly competing with coast cholla to the detriment of cactus wren populations.

Umbrella Project
Chula Vista Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Program

A 5-year restoration and enhancement project designed to maintain and increase suitable habitat for the cactus wren in the City of Chula Vista's Central City Preserve. The goal of this program is to ensure the prolongation of the coastal cactus wren through active management of suitable cactus wren habitat, restore degraded and/or fragmented cholla patches, and initiate activities to reduce edge effects associated with invasive species, uncontrolled access and risk of fire.

Salt Creek Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration Project

The goal of the project was to enhance, restore, expand, and monitor coastal cactus wren habitat in the Salt Creek area. In 2008, County of San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation planted 7,000 to 10,000 cactus cuttings toenhance and improve existing coastal cactus wrenhabitat on 1.4 acres within the Otay Ranch Preserve inthe Salt Creek area. The area is jointly managed by theCounty and City of Chula Vista. Monitoring of birds and vegetation was conducted.

Coastal Cactus Wren Conservation Network

The Coastal Cactus Wren Conservation Network is an ad hoc group of more than 100 individuals representing research institutions, land management agencies, local government, non-profit conservation organizations and wildlife agencies. Members work together to exchange research and management information to develop best practices, policies, and programs that promote conservation and recovery of this bird throughout its range (Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties). This information will inform publication of a regional conservation strategy for the coastal cactus wren. Cactus wrens (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) are distributed across the arid regions of the southwestern United States and northern and central Mexico (Hamilton et al. 2011). While the desert populations are fairly abundant, populations of coastal cactus wrens have declined dramatically over the past 30 years, with extirpation and genetic isolation affecting many locations as a result of habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, edge effects of development, and catastrophic fires (Solek and Szijj 2004). The coastal population is unique in that it occurs exclusively within the coastal sage scrub plant community, ranging from Ventura County south into San Diego County, U.S.A. and northwestern Baja California, Mexico. The firestorms of 2007 impacted several strongholds for the coastal cactus wren in Orange and San Diego counties. The significant loss of habitat and birds was the impetus for formation of the Coastal Cactus Wren Network. For more information on the Coastal Cactus Wren Conservation Network, please see the document titled "Coastal Cactus Wren Working Group Regional Goals, Objectives, and Strategies".

Coastal Cactus Wren Monitoring in MUs 3 and 4

A monitoring plan for coastal cactus wren monitoring in MUs 3 and 4 covering the years from 2015 through 2019 has been developed. The two goals are: 1. To assess population status following the 2014 drought. 2. Monitor execution of the Implementation Plan's highest priority management actions (MSP, Vol. 2, Table 2-2.9 (llP, J EX)). This includes determining the relationships between specific elements of habitat quality, food availability, and cactus wren productivity and survival and using this knowledge to refine ASMDs to increase population abundance and resilience. Specific objectives are included in the MSP.

Umbrella Project
Cactus Wren Monitoring in southern San Diego County

This is a planned 5-year study with two main goals: 1) Assess the population status of the coastal cactus wren following the 2014 drought and 2) monitor the implementation of the MSP 2015 Habitat Conservation and management Plan's highest priority management actions. In the first year, the population status of cactus wren in MUs 3 and 4 was assessed to determine the relationship between habitat quality, food availability, and cactus wren productivity and survival. In 2017, the focus is on monitoring cactus wren reproduction and survival and conducting vegetation sampling. Specific management recommendations will be developed to respond to short-term emergency needs and to enhance habitat for long-term cactus wren persistence. Continued monitoring will be done annually.

Coastal California Gnatcatcher Habitat Suitability Model for Southern California

This habitat model was developed to delineate a sampling frame for regional monitoring of coastal California gnatcatchers (Polioptila californica californica) to determine: 1) percent area occupied (PAO) in high and very high suitability habitat across conserved lands and participating military lands in the U.S. range in southern California; 2) changes in PAO over time; and 3) extinction and colonization rates. One purpose of the model is to identify areas recovering from disturbance, such as wildfire, that may not currently support coastal sage scrub vegetation used by coastal California gnatcatchers, but are otherwise highly suitable. In this way, we can monitor gnatcatcher occupancy associated with habitat changes over time. We used the Partitioned Mahalanobis D2 modeling technique to construct alternative models with different combinations of environmental variables. Variables were calculated at each point in the center of a 150 m x 150 m cell in a grid of points across the southern California landscape. Variables reflect various aspects of topography, climate, land use (percent vegetation and urbanization at 150 m and 1 km scales), Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, and modeled California sagebrush (Artemisia californica) habitat suitability. Due to spatial unevenness in gnatcatcher location data, we divided southern California into five sampling regions and randomly subsampled 50 locations from each region. We repeated this process 1,000 times using a total of 1,063 spatially precise and non-redundant gnatcatcher locations as a calibration dataset. We model-averaged the results from sampling iterations to create a calibration model and partitions for each set of variables. We compared among calibration model-partitions using a validation dataset of 3,205 presence records independently collected from the calibration dataset and an equivalent number of pseudo-absence points randomly selected from the study area grid. For every model-partition, we calculated Habitat Similarity Index (HSI) predictions for presence and pseudo absence points ranging from Very High (0.75 - 1.00); High (0.50 - 0.74); Low (0.25 - 0.49); and Very Low (0 - 0.24). Suitable habitat is identified as grid cells with HSI greater than or equal to 0.5. We calculated Area Under the Curve (AUC) values from a Receiver Operating Curve (ROC) to determine how well models distinguish between presence and pseudo-absence points. We selected a best performing calibration model and partition based upon median HSI calibration and validation values and AUC results. The top performing model-partition Run 18 Partition 1 of 19 alternative models has an AUC of 0.96 and a median calibration and validation HSI of 0.73 and 0.69, respec

Connectivity Strategic Plan for Western San Diego County Science Session

A strategic plan for connectivity (CSP) of preserve lands in western San Diego County was developed for the San Diego Association of Government's Environmental Mitigation Program Working Group (EMPWG) in 2011. It was prepared by the SDMMP utilizing the input from a science workshop held in 2010. Many of the high priority items in the CSP have been completed and the data collected over those several years were utilized to inform management decisions. In 2014, there was a need to update and refocus the connectivity strategies and priorities for implementation. The purpose of this meeting was to gather input for the updated CSP. It followed a similar format to the 2010 connectivity workshop. The meeting consisted of a review of completed and in process projects, followed by breakout groups, and then an integration of ideas and recap session. The breakout groups were: (1) Large Animals and Landscape Connectivity; (2) Small Animals; and (3) Pollinators. The meeting focused on: 1. Identifying species to focus questions on connectivity; 2. Identifying questions and objectives to be considered for connectivity for species, and 3. Identifying available methodologies for addressing the questions and objectives. The updated CSP is found in Volume 3 of the Management Strategic Plan.

Covered and Invasive Species Management: Crestridge Ecological Reserve and South Crest Properties

This was a two year, TransNet-funded study (#5001586) on Crestridge Ecological Reserve and South Crest properties. Both properties support MSCP covered species and sensitive habitats, and function as critical landscape linkages between the northern and southern MSCP. Surrounded by residential development and heavily impacted by the 2003 Cedar Fire, these properties are subject to ongoing invasive plant issues. Specific task actions included invasive plant and covered plant species mapping and risk assessment s, invasive plant control and experimental studies, and development of an early detection invasive control plan.

Crest Canyon Invasvive Plant Control Project

The Crest Canyon lnvasive Plant Control Project would control the highly invasive exotic purple veldt grass (Ehrharta calycina) in the Crest Canyon Preserve in Del Mar Heights. The project would conduct thorough and systematic herbicide treatment of purple veldt grass and any other encountered invasive plant species in an attempt to significantly reduce the spread of veldt grass in the Crest Canyon Preserve.

D Street Fill Least Tern Management 2023

The project will assist in management and recovery of two federal and state-listed species, the California least tern (Sternula antillarum browni) and western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus), which occur at the D Street Fill during the avian breeding season (April through September). The project goal is to prepare the site for the 2023 and 2024 nesting seasons by performing site grading, debris removal, vegetation control, invasive plant management, avian monitoring, and predator management to maintain the site as suitable breeding, nesting, and foraging habitat.

Dehesa Nolina Conservation and Management Strategy

The Conservation Biology Institute developed a science-based Conservation Vision and Management Strategy for Dehesa nolina in San Diego County. The Conservation Vision assessed the distribution, status, and threats of populations on conserved lands through data and literature reviews, site visits, and interviews with land managers. Products included spatial data layers, an updated matrix of threats and stressors, management recommendations, and prioritized populations for management. The Management Strategy focused on preserve-level management, using the existing Dehesa nolina population on the South Crest Preserve to test/refine management techniques, including species augmentation (seed collection, contract growing of plants, out-planting) and erosion control. These actions also benefitted Dudleya variegata (variegated dudleya) and sensitive native grassland habitat. These management actions complemented other Transnet-funded management on South Crest; techniques refined in this project are applicable to other conserved populations in the region.

El Monte Preserve Bat Hotel

The goal of this project is to aid the recovery of locally declining bat species, by: 1) Creating a thermally stable, long-term (i.e., 50-75 years) roost site, or bat hotel, on the El Monte Preserve; 2) Creating replicable building plans for the "bat hotel" so it can be used as a prototype on other conserved lands; and 3) Engaging and educating the public about the ecological importance and conservation value of bats, both online and through in-person educational events. Both the Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) and pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus), California Species of Special Concern, were observed within 3.5 miles of the El Monte Preserve during 2017 bat surveys conducted at El Monte County Park. De Boer Engineering will build the roosting structure in close coordination with Drew Stokes, Wildlife Biologist and local bat expert for the San Diego Natural History Museum. Together, de Boer Engineering and Mr. Stokes designed the structure to be long lasting, low maintenance, and cost efficient. We envision the "bat hotel" as a prototype for additional structures to be constructed on suitable preserves throughout the MSCP Plan Area, thereby contributing to a long-term recovery strategy for this taxon on a landscape scale. This project is fully funded by SANDAG TransNet EMP Land Management Grant #S1125486

Emergency Land Management Fund

Initiation date in 2000's; in progress

Enforcement (CDFW)
Umbrella Project
Open Space Enforcement Program (CDFW and County Sheriff)

Illegal activities, such as off-road riding, trespassing, vandalism, and littering have complicated efforts to preserve and manage open space lands in the region of San Diego. Despite passive enforcement efforts, open space violations continued to persist on both publicly owned lands and privately owned properties and are believed to be adversely affecting the species and habitats that the open space lands were intended to preserve. To address this issue, the San Diego Association of Governments in association with its partners, developed an Open Space Enforcement Program to coordinate and implement an aggressive multi-agency enforcement effort for conservation and management of the open space in the region. Through a cooperative approach, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and San Diego County Sheriff's Department Off-Road Enforcement Team (ORET) participated in a Pilot Program to advance the following goals: 1. Prevent/reduce habitat damage 2. Reduce/prevent take of MHCP and MSCP covered species 3. Reduce preserve management and remediation costs 4. Support volunteer patrol activities on preserves CDFW Game Wardens primarily focused on increasing law enforcement patrols in open space areas for illegal activity to control damage of property and the environment. Game Wardens enforced state law and local ordinances against violators in the targeted areas to help reduce and deter criminal activities on open space lands in the region. The ORET developed an open space enforcement plan and conducted enforcement actions that have a nexus and contributed to the protection of open spaces throughout the region. A majority of the ORET's efforts focused on areas previously identified, while the remainder of their effort focused on response to specific and often one-time requests for open space enforcement response. To the extent possible, the ORET and DFG collaborated on developing joint operational plans and information sharing to enhance the logistical and tactical effectiveness of the Program.

Enhancing the Resilience of Edaphic Endemic Plants

The Management Strategic Plan for San Diego County requires prioritization and management for edaphic endemic plants, including the five rare plants addressed in this study. These species face low genetic diversity due to reduced population sizes, geographic isolation, and loss of pollinators. To enhance the resilience of these species across their ranges, we must manage threats to increase population sizes, identify potentially suitable habitat to connect existing populations, find or restore new populations, and provide opportunities for shifting distributions due to climate change. This study identifies and describes geographic areas that support the five edaphic endemic species and their habitat in a design that enhances resilience and provides opportunities for shifting distributions. We developed conceptual models to inform field studies and management, refined soils and vegetation attributes, and assessed regional population structure and threats. We used results to suggest prioritized locations for surveys, management, potential translocation, and additional conservation or acquisition. Project partners (U.S. Geological Survey and San Diego Management and Monitoring Program) modeled suitable habitat for the target species under current and future climate scenarios; we reference models as appropriate.

Fairbanks Ranch/Rancho Santa Fe Invasive Removal and Stream Enhancement

The long-term goal of this project is to restore and enhance wetland/riparian habitat along 3 miles, 200 acres, of the San Dieguito River and reduce fire risk to the surrounding community. Key actions include non-native, invasive plant removal, revegetation with native species, volunteer training, community workshops and education of local residents on how to improve habitat and create Fire-Safe landscapes around their homes. A secondary goal of this project is to highlight the importance of diverse partnerships in conserving habitat along the San Dieguito River. For more information, go to:

Famosa Slough, Restoration and enhancement

Famosa Slough is a City of San Diego Wetland Preserve. The City and the Friends of Famosa Slough have been working on its maintenance and restoration since about 1991.

Feral Pig Eradication in San Diego County

The purpose for the project is to eliminate or reduce impacts of feral pigs on the natural resources in San Diego County.

Feral Pig Removal Program Monitoring

This is an ongoing project established to support the feral pig removal effort in San Diego County established and funded by land management agencies that have been participating in the Intergovernmental Feral Pig Project. This is an independent monitoring project intended to complement and inform the USDA Wildlife Services-led removal project. The objectives of the project are to monitor feral pigs and their movements through use of telemetry, remote cameras, and collecting field data pre-, during, and post-removal actions to inform efficient and effective removal efforts. The project is also working to coordinate with the Feral Pig Intergovernmental Working Group and provide results of the monitoring efforts on a quarterly basis.

Framework Resource Management Plans

Develop 2 to 3 Framework Management Plans. Task 1. South Western Otay Mesa Preserve Management Plan. Task 2. South Crest Preservce Complex Management Plan. Task 3. Preserve Area 3 (Optional Task).

Furby-North Preserve Unauthorized Control Project

Currently there are multiple unauthorized trails on the Property. The Property is surrounded on all sides by heavy urbanization, and local residents frequently hike through using the northern access road or unauthorized trails. Off-road vehicle use, specifically motorcycles, is also a problem within the Property. Failure to control access to the unauthorized trails on the Property will cause further loss of on-site sensitive vegetation communities including maritime succulent scrub, Diego coastal sage scrub and vernal pools. In addition, special status species observed on-site including the coastal California gnatcatcher and coastal cactus wren could be affected by unauthorized use of the Property. This one-year project will add signage, fencing, and gates on the Property to prevent unauthorized access into and across the Property and allow for future active restoration of the unauthorized trails as outlined in the Resource Management Plan. The County will coordinate with the SANDAG enforcement program to increase patrols and enforce County regulations on the Property once signs are intellect, The County also will coordinate with Earth Discovery Institute to develop a public outreach program with the San Ysidro School District,including, but not limited to, the distribution of flyers discussing general ecology using the proposed project as an example of how good stewardship results in positive biological changes The message will encourage school children to participate in the conservation effort of their local flora and fauna and thus reduce trespassing across the Property. The County will provide on-site monitoring during installation and post-installation of fencing, gates, and signs to document the effectiveness.

Genetics Workshop

The purpose of this workshop was to review current genetic techniques and how they can be applied to monitoring and management needs for rare and endangered species, ecological communities and the broader landscape.

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) Monitoring and Management Plan

Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) face many threats in southern California. To reduce these threats and successfully conserve this species in western San Diego County, MSP Roadmap 2021-2026 objectives include the development and implementation of a Management Strategic Plan for Golden Eagles in San Diego County and a Monitoring Strategic Plan for Golden Eagles in San Diego County. These plans include general sections with background information and rationale for prioritizing and developing monitoring and management recommendations. Previously, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in collaboration with local, State, and other Federal agencies has conducted a multi-year research study of golden eagles to address questions regarding habitat use, movement behavior, nest occupancy, genetic population structure, and human impacts on eagles. From 2016-17, occupancy analyses were conducted and it was concluded that estimates of occupancy were greatest at sample sites with more rugged terrain conditions, lower human development, and lower amounts of scrubland vegetation cover (Weins et al. 2022). Tracking data from the last 10 years in the Western Unites States have shown eagles exhibit long-distance, nonroutine movements that were responsive to the updraft potential of the spatial and temporal landscape they encountered (Poessel et al. 2022). For the development of both Plans, chapters will be shaped based on the latest scientific information regarding occupancy, natal nesting success, juvenile dispersal, movement and biotelemetry, home range estimation, habitat use, and prey availability. Site-based threats assessment will be used to determine the best management practices. These plans are developed with input and guidance provided by the San Diego Golden Eagle working group, which includes include landowners and managers, scientists, species experts, and representatives from non-profit organizations, government, and wildlife agencies. Occurrence-specific management recommendations will be based on working group input and multiple years of data on Golden Eagle population status, habitat associations, and threats. These are living documents as the plans will be updated when new information becomes available or management actions are completed, and new recommendations are needed.

Golden Eagle nest platforms

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge (SDNWR) personnel and contractors constructed and installed artificial nest ledges to induce Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) to resume nesting on SDNWR and other suitable habitat nearby. Since the platforms were installed, the biologist at SDNWR has monitored them for use by eagles. Platforms were initially monitored by watching the platform and environs with a scope from a vantage point approximately a mile away. In early spring of 2016, we installed motion-triggered cameras at each of the nest platforms, and abandoned the remote surveillance we had been doing. In addition, Dr. Robert Fisher of the Western Ecological Research Center, US Geological Survey, is aware of the platforms, and looks for evidence of platform use in the data transmitted from radio-tagged eagles that are the subject of his study. To date, we only have one unequivocal record of use of the platforms by eagles. On 4 April, 2014, the refuge biologist watched a mated pair of eagles perched together on the San Miguel Mountain platform for approximately 2 minutes, after which they resumed soaring around the east side of the mountain. They occupied that hillside for the entire nesting season without nesting.

Golden Eagle Studies - San Diego County

This is a planned 5-Year Study - The objectives of this study are 1. Establish a site-occupancy monitoring program to assess the potential effects of human land use on occupancy dynamics and nesting success of golden eagles. 2. Use GPS biotelemetry data to develop models for golden eagle movement behavior and resource use in three spatial dimensions. 3. Collect genetic samples and analyze genetic differentiation and diversity of golden eagles in San Diego County relative to other sampled regions of western North America.

Umbrella Project
Five Year Site Occupancy, Nesting Success, Movement Behavior, and Genetic Structure of Golden Eagles in Western San Diego County, California

The status of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in coastal southern California is unclear. To address this knowledge gap, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in collaboration with local, State, and other Federal agencies began a multi-year survey and tracking program of golden eagles to address questions regarding habitat use, movement behavior, nest occupancy, genetic population structure, and human impacts on eagles. Golden eagle trapping and tracking efforts began in September 2014. During trapping efforts from September 29, 2014, to February 23, 2016, 27 golden eagles were captured. During trapping efforts from February 24, 2016, to February 23, 2017, an additional 10 golden eagles (7 females and 3 males) were captured in San Diego, Orange, and western Riverside Counties. Biotelemetry data were collected between November 22, 2014 and February 23, 2016. Biotelemetry data for 26 of the 37 golden eagles that were transmitting data from February 24, 2016, to February 23, 2017 are presented in the reports. These eagles ranged as far north as northern Nevada and southern Wyoming, and as far south as La Paz, Baja California, Mexico. For more information on this study, please visit the USGS website: .

Biotelemetry Data for Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) Captured in Coastal Southern California

Because of a lack of clarity about the status of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in coastal southern California, the USGS, in collaboration with local, state, and other federal agencies, began a multi-year survey and tracking program of golden eagles to address questions regarding habitat use, movement behavior, nest occupancy, genetic population structure, and human impacts on eagles. Golden eagle trapping and tracking efforts in coastal southern California, began in September 2014. During trapping efforts from September 29, 2014, to February 23, 2017, 37 golden eagles were captured. During trapping efforts from February 24, 2017, to December 2, 2019, an additional 7 golden eagles (4 females and 3 males) were captured, and one previously captured female was recaptured. Biotelemetry data for 27 of the 44 golden eagles that were transmitting data from February 24, 2017, to December 2, 2019 are presented. These eagles ranged as far north as British Columbia, Canada, and as far south as Ciudad Insurgentes, Baja California, Mexico.

Habitat Restoration and Invasive Control in Carlsbad HU

This project treated 24.84 acres of invasive species throughout the project area in Indian Head Canyon, Encinitas, and Rancho Carillo, Carlsbad. The associated biomass was reduced or removed, and over 34.5 acres of invasive species were retreated (some retreatment areas had been previously treated) This project also installed, watered, maintained 450 native plants.

Harbison's Dun Skipper Regional Management and Monitoring

Regional monitoring for Harbison's dun skipper started in 2014 and is ongoing. Data collected during monitoring status of the butterfly and habitat conditions led to the development of the Habitat Conservation and Management Plan for San Diego County.

Umbrella Project
Harbison's Dun Skipper Surveys and Monitoring

SANDAG-funded surveys for Harbison's dun skipper adults were conducted to assess year to year variation in population size. Field visits were used to document use including plants used for nectar sources, as well as obtain non-lethal genetic samples. A rapid habitat assessment was conducted at each site which included general woodland tree species composition, condition of San Diego sedge plants, and recording potential threats to the Harbison's dun skipper.

San Diego County Harbison's Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris harbisoni) Habitat Conservation and Management Plan

This plan provides a summary of what is known regarding the Harbison's dun skipper, including life history, historic and current distribution, movement patterns, suitable habitat, and threats. A thorough understanding of the species is necessary to make appropriate adaptive management recommendations in an attempt to alleviate the current threats to the species. To develop this plan, we: 1. Reviewed existing data, including historic Harbison's dun skipper locations, recent (2013-2017) survey data, property ownership to identify conserved lands for potential surveys, management, and acquisitions, and 2. Consulted with the wildlife agencies and other stakeholders to ensure that the most current information regarding Harbison's dun skipper biology, management, regulations, conserved lands, and potential acquisitions were included.

Hermes Copper Regional Management and Monitoring

SANDAG- funded Hermes copper regional management and monitoring started in 2010 and is ongoing.

Umbrella Project
Hermes Copper Adult Surveys

In 2016, researchers conducted butterfly surveys and habitat assessments at small northern populations and at southern sites. They did not detect Hermes copper adults at any of the eight northern sites, although this was consistent with other (larger) sites in the county due to continuing drought conditions. They did detect Hermes copper at some of the southern sites. Habitat assessments resulted in the mapping of 65 spiny redberry patches and 11 single redberry shrubs across the 8 sites. Up to 90 redberry shrubs were recorded in a single patch, but more patches were represented by a relatively low number of shrubs, and most of the redberry patches had at least 60% shrub cover. Additional insight may be gained from a more formal comparison to the habitat measured at Hermes copper sites in southern San Diego County. Monitoring for Hermes copper has continued at a subset of the sites in since 2016. The species has been greatly affected by the drought. This contract is funded by a combination of SANDAG (5004388 and 5005783) and USFWS (Contract: F17AC00963) contracts.

Hermes Copper Implementation Habitat Conservation and Management Plan

This plan identifies and prioritizes management and restoration needs over the next five years (2017-2021) for the Hermes copper across the entire United States range. It is intended that implementation of high priority management actions in this plan will help to achieve the MSP Roadmap goal for Hermes copper to: "protect, enhance, and restore Hermes copper occupied habitat and historically occupied habitat and the landscape connections between them to create resilient, self-sustaining populations that provide for persistence over the long term (>100 years)".

Hermes Copper Larval Captive Rearing

Captive rearing is a potential management tool for fire risk reduction and to improve connectivity (augment natural populations). However, Hermes copper larvae are extremely difficult to rear in captivity, and no one has successfully reared a Hermes copper from egg to adult. Rearing efforts in 2013 provided important information in terms of foraging requirements for early instar larvae, however, breaking winter diapause remained a challenge. Researchers conducted an additional year of captive rearing, a first year with a sophisticated rearing chamber at the San Diego Zoo which can control temperature and humidity. Eggs were obtained in May-June 2016 for rearing activities in the spring of 2017. This project attempted to rear eggs to determine the optimal conditions for rearing Hermes copper in captivity and establish protocols. This is one critical barrier to several management approaches that are available for other butterfly species, which can be reared in captivity for study or for reintroduction projects.

Hermes Copper Management Studies on Conserved Lands in San Diego County

This study builds on the previous 2-year study on Hermes Copper. In 2012 the project shifted to resolving critical uncertainties about the species biology, while also evaluating population size trends at several large. The focus for 2014-2015 remained on resolving these uncertainties, primarily regarding immature stages.

Rare Butterfly Management Studies- Transloaction 2016

Our research has documented several extirpations due to the 2003 and 2007 wildfires, but few recolonizations despite what appears to be suitable habitat. Although a few small populations exist within and north of the city of San Diego, the majority of Hermes copper individuals are found to the east and southeast of the city between the footprints of 2003 and 2007 fires. Due to the extremely restricted distribution, the species is highly vulnerable since one large fire could push the species to the brink of extinction. Recolonization into post-wildfire habitats is essential for the long-term persistence of Hermes copper; however, it appears that habitat fragmentation is limiting dispersal and preventing recolonizations from occurring. For these reasons, we initiated a project to evaluate translocation as a management tool for establishing self-sustaining Hermes copper populations. If successful, this could be a potential management tool to mitigate the impacts of wildfire. We translocated Hermes copper from larger populations to an area that was occupied by Hermes copper prior to a recent (2007) wildfire. In addition, key members of the vegetation community, including spiny redberry and California buckwheat shrubs were still present after the fire. The success of translocation of adults and eggs was assessed separately.

Two-Year Evaluation of Hermes Copper (Lycaena hermes)

This project was conducted to address the growing concerns about the status of Hermes copper and minimize the risk that Hermes copper will become extinct. The objectives were: (1) improve our basic understanding of population status and trend; (2) describe natural and anthropogenic threats to the species; (3) evaluate potential management options to ameliorate threats and/or to increase the size and range of viable populations. Year 1 included: GIS analysis, landscape genetics, vegetation survey, hermes copper field survey, and data analysis. Year 2 included: field surveys, landscape genetics, and data analysis and synthesis.

Hodges Reservoir-Bernardo Bay Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration Grant Project

This project restored habitat for the California Species of Special Concern, the coastal cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus), near the Hodges Reservoir-Bernardo Bay. This included a 20 acre restoration of cactus burned in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire. Additionally, unauthorized trails were closed off and the soil was stabilized to minimize erosion and filter runoff into source water reservoir. The purpose of this restoration project was to re-establish cactus wren habitat and connectivity to eastern core habitat areas.

Invasive Plant Control - Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary

Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary, owned and operated by San Diego Audubon since 1966, is maintained to preserve 787 acres of prime coastal chaparral and riparian woodland habitat in San Diego County, consistent with objectives described in the Management Strategic Plan (MSP). Like much of San Diego County, sensitive wildlife in the preserve is threatened by the presence and potential spread of invasive non-native plant species. This project supports the implementation of invasive plant control in priority habitat areas within the preserve. The primary goal is to reduce extant populations of invasive species and prevent their further spread. Project objectives include treatment of approximately 65 acres of invasive species hot spots with herbicide and approximately 5 acres of emergent invasive species treated via hand management, reducing invasive cover by 90% within the 18-month grant term. This funding is a priority and imminent need for the preserve, largely due to drought-caused, elevated instances of invasive species that threaten high-quality habitat.

Invasive Plant Strategic Plan (IPSP)

San Diego County's Natural Community Conservation Programs (NCCP) are challenged with management and monitoring of approximately 200,000 acres of conserved lands in the western region of the county, with invasive species-both plants and animals being one of the greatest threats to ecological processes and persistence of rare species. The Conservation Biology Institute (CBI), Dendra, Inc., and California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) have been working with land managers in developing the State's first strategic plan for management and monitoring of invasive plant species on a regional level. This project has included: 1. Guiding the collection of invasive plant distribution data by mapping contractors (AECOM). 2, Conducting detailed impact assessments for regionally important invasive plants, using a modified form of the standard Plant Assessment Forms (PAF) developed by Cal-IPC, with transparent and detailed scoring and evaluations specific to the western San Diego region. 3. Developing a strategic plan that identifies priorities for near-term management and monitoring on a regional basis.

J26 Vernal Pool Monitoring- Vista Del Mar Elementary School Project

Five-year monitoring of vernal pool reference site J26 Vernal Pool Complex as part of the comprehensive mitigation program associated with the construction of the San Ysidro School District's Vista Del Mar Elementary School. The J26 Complex is formally recognized by the USFWS as a vernal pool reference site. It is located 10 km north of the restoration area. Vernal pools in the J26 Complex were chosen as control pools to monitor restoration success. This includes monitoring of San Diego fairy shrimp populations, vernal pool plant germination and abundance, and levels of inundation in a healthy vernal pool system.

Least Bell's Vireo Surveys - Tijuana River Valley

In 2017, USGS conducted Least Bell's Vireo surveys at the Tijuana River to document the species' status 2 years after the Kuroshio Shothole Borer/Fusarium Dieback infestation and compare it to historic vireo abundance and distribution.

Lusardi Creek Restoration and Invasive Plant Removal

This project is working to eradicate invasive species and support native plants along Lusardi Creek. Many areas have already been treated and are recruiting natives naturally. Other areas are being planted with natives after invasive plant removal. The current goals include: 1) treat artichoke in several upland areas, 2) continue removing tamarix in the creek, 3) treat any regrowing Peruvian pepper, 4) treat any remaining pampas grass or tree tobacco, 5) work on an overall restoration plan. See the map link below for detailed treatment information.

Mountain Lion Research, Monitoring, and Management

This research is a partnership with UC Davis' Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, The Nature Conservancy, and regional collaborators. Mountain lions were studied to assess connectivity and population genetics, sources of mortality, ways to manage threats to persistence, and to inform long-term monitoring and management plans.

Umbrella Project
Mountain Lion Connectivity and Genetics Study- North San Diego County

The purpose of this study is to provide the data needed regarding which lands in north San Diego County are likely utilized by mountain lions, and to assess connectivity within and between current and proposed future conserved lands in MSP Management Units (MU) 5, 6 and 8 and conserved and unconserved mountain lion habitat in adjacent Riverside, and Orange Counties. The results from this study of mountain lion movement, habitat use, gene flow, and highway crossings will be available to inform critical decisions regarding the prioritization of lands for conservation and the potential need and location of highway modifications to enhance connectivity for mountain lions and other wildlife. For this study, the UCD-WHC team will be conducting genetic analyses, resource selection and movement modeling, analysis of potential crossing points of highways.

Mountain Lion Critical Linkage Evaluation in MSPA

As a part of its ongoing Southern California Mountain Lion project, this study assesses mountain lion use of core conserved lands and linkages in western San Diego County. GPS-collaring of mountain lions was undertaken in order to acquire location and movement data from individual lions utilizing core conserved areas and linkages that have been designated by the county. Six mountain lions were GPS-collared in this study (5 males and 1 female). All 6 circulated extensively in one or more of the targeted conserved cores and linkages, as well as on adjacent conserved and unconserved lands. Of the 9 core conserved areas assessed, 6 were used regularly by collared mountain lions. Of the 11 linkages identified for assessment, only 3 were demonstrated to be utilized for regular movement from one core area to another. One other linkage between core conserved areas was demonstrated that was not pre-identified on the connectivity maps. Roads and associated development, even rural development, appear to be the primary limiters of connectivity between conserved lands.

Mountain Lion Road Crossing and Deterrent Methods Evaluations

This proposed contract expands upon work conducted under contracts #5004037 and #5004593 between SANDAG and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center to study mountain lions and their habitat use and movement patterns in San Diego County for conservation purposes. Work under this contract will help to address connectivity and survival threats for mountain lions, other wildlife, livestock, and humans by creating guidance for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions, improving wildlife connectivity, and reducing mortality of livestock, mountain lions, and other wildlife. Task 1: Conduct highway crossing assessments; Task 2: Test Lion hazing and deterrent devices; Task 3: Write final report.

MSCP Wildlife Corridor Monitoring

A CBI study evaluating several MSCP habitat linkages and corridors critical to regional wildlife movement in the MSCP preserve. The study evaluated the functionality of the linkages, the large mammals and mesopredators using the linkages, constraints to animal movement, and underpass function.

MTRP San Diego Thornmint Restoration

This project is focused on restoring and enhancing approximately 1.4 acre of degraded habitat for San Diego thornmint (Federally Threatened / State Endangered, Narrow Endemic Covered Species under the City’s MSCP Subarea Plan, and MSP listed sensitive species [Category SO]). This program addresses the immediate needs of the San Diego thornmint within MTRP Fortuna (CNDDB EO 33; MOM OccID ACIL_4MTRP021) and (EO 35; MOM OccID 4MTRP022) where loss and degradation of existing clay lens habitat has occurred due to an increase of invasive plant species and drought. This project will benefit sensitive species and vegetation communities include herbicide treatment, fence and sign installation, native seed collection and redistribution to expand occupied habitat and introduce thornmint to new locations with suitable friable clay soil, vegetation monitoring, and focused monitoring surveys for the San Diego thornmint in the treatment areas. The methodologies used in conjunction with this proposal are similar to those used to successfully expand and increase the population of thornmint within approximately 0.5 acre at Site 1 and used to successfully increase the population of thornmint at Wrights Field. Both of these projects were formerly funded through EMP grants. In 2020 and 2021, the thornimint at both of these projects had better germination and flowering numbers than other natural populations (pers. comm. City PRD Sara Allen). This qualitative observation supports that the methods used in these two projects were successful in building more population resiliency. Due to the density of non-natives at all four of the restoration sites prior to implementation, we recommend waiting until the next growing season (Year 2) to disperse previously collected thornmint seeds. This will allow for weed control activities to be implemented later this season which will reduce the density of non-native species. Due to the increased density of thatch at site 4 since the original proposal was prepared, ESA coordinated with the City of San Diego and Foundation staff to have Park volunteers work on weed dethatching at Site 4. In December 2023, Park volunteers partially cut the thatch at site 4. Because additional dethatching effort could be completed within the existing grant budget, the Habitat West crew performed a follow up visit to site 4 and completed a further cleaning of the thatch at the site.

Non-Invasive Genetic Sampling to Determine Movement of Southern Mule Deer Across California State Route 67

The goal of this project was to primarily assess east-west connectivity across Route 67 and secondarily, north-south connectivity across Scripps Poway Parkway and Poway Road, two highly trafficked roads to the west of Route 67.The Southern Mule Deer is a mobile but non-migratory large mammal found throughout southern California and is a covered species in the San Diego Multi-Species Conservation Plan. USGS researchers assessed deer movement and population connectivity across California State Route 67 and two smaller roads in eastern San Diego County using non-invasive genetic sampling. They collected deer scat pellets between April and November 2015, and genotyped pellets at 15 microsatellites and a sex determination marker. They successfully genotyped 71 unique individuals from throughout the study area and detected nine recapture events. Recaptures were generally found close to original capture locations (within 1.5 km). They did not detect recaptures across roads; however, pedigree analysis detected 21 first order relative pairs, of which approximately 20% were found across State Route 67. Exact tests comparing allele frequencies between groups of individuals in pre-defined geographic clusters detected significant genetic differentiation across State Route 67. In contrast, the assignment-based algorithm of STRUCTURE supported a single genetic cluster across the study area. Their data suggest that State Route 67 may reduce, but does not preclude, movement and gene flow of Southern Mule Deer.

North County Dunes Restoration

Phase I of this project focused on surveys and restoration activities at potential dune habitat between northern Carlsbad and northern La Jolla. This was in order to extend the range and increase the population of dune-dependent species, such as the California least tern, Western snowy plover, and Nuttall's lotus. Phase 2 will focus on the completion and implementation of the following site-specific restoration plan that was developed during the first phase of the project: the Cardiff State Beach Living Shorelines Draft Habitat Restoration Plan. In addition, SELC proposes to conduct invasive species management and support existing populations of special-status/native coastal dune and bluff plant species at South Carlsbad State Beach Campground.

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) Surveys

Northern harrier is a species that has disappeared as a breeding resident from many areas in southern California. Once abundant and widespread in San Diego County, there are few known breeding populations remaining in marshes and grasslands on Conserved Lands. In 2021, AECOM surveyed for northern harriers at historic and recently documented breeding sites and in other suitable habitat to determine if harriers are present during the breeding season, and to estimate population size and breeding status. AECOM used an SDMMP protocol to evaluate habitat quality and threats at each suitable habitat site, even those without northern harriers. SDMMP will use these data, and data from subsequent surveys, for the development of management priorities.

Oncosiphon Pilulifer (Stinknet) Management

Oncosiphon pilulifer (stinknet) is a fast-spreading invasive plant from South Africa that is becoming established in Southern California and Arizona. It is an annual flowering plant that often occurs in arid to semi-arid regions in sandy soils. It is very prolific, and especially abundant in disturbed agriculture fields and open scrublands. It has a strong unpleasant odor and medicinal properties. Oncosiphon pilulifer is used by indigenous peoples as an herbal remedy and more recently is being evaluated for pharmaceutical uses. It was originally introduced into Riverside County in 1981 and San Diego County in 1998. It is becoming very abundant and widespread in the San Pasqual Valley and is well established in western Otay Mesa and many other spots along the coast and inland western San Diego County. Because it is so abundant and dense in coastal sage scrub, it poses a potential threat to species of conservation concern, such as the California gnatcatcher and coastal cactus wren. It also has the potential to impact reptiles, sensitive plants, and other species inhabiting openings in scrublands or riparian areas. The San Diego Management and Monitoring Program is initiating efforts to eradicate small, isolated occurrences, prevent new occurrences from establishing, and, as feasible, to contain and reduce impacts of larger occurrences. In 2018, SDMMP will be coordinating with weed control experts and land managers to map and treat Oncosiphon pilulifer in western San Diego County.

Orcutt's Spineflower Enhancement
Umbrella Project
Orcutt's Spineflower Enhancement - FundSource2

Develop and implement a conservation strategy that includes seed bulking and the establishment of additional populations to help minimize the risk of extinction.

Rarest Plants Project: San Diego Thornmint, Short-leaved Dudleya, Orcutt's Spineflower, Orcutt's Brodiaea, and California Orcutt Grass

The initial goal of this project was to significantly improve the conservation status of three of the rarest and most imperiled plants in San Diego County: Orcutt's spineflower, San Diego thornmint, and short-leaved dudleya. Proposed work included stabilizing and increasing the size of existing populations, establishing new populations of Orcutt's spineflower, and providing stewardship. A TransNet EMP grant (#5001767) funded the development and implementation of a conservation strategy that included seed bulking and the establishment of additional populations of Orcutt's spineflower to help minimize the risk of extinction. SANDAG EMP funds and a Section 6 grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife funded GIS mapping of suitable habitat soils and population surveys at remaining natural historic documented occurrences and in newly mapped suitable habitat on conserved lands off the Point Loma Navy Base. Through an additional round of TransNet EMP grant funding (#5004954), the project grew to include Orcutt's brodiaea and California Orcutt grass for the Otay Mesa Rare Plants Project. Project activities included seed bulking for MSP plant species and restoration of vernal pools & maritime succulent scrub & establishment of MSP plant occurrences. One last round of grant funding (#5005511) focused on improving the conservation status of Orcutt's spineflower (SL); short-leaved dudleya (SL), and Orcutt's brodiaea (SO). The project focused on seed bulking for all three species; control of invasive weeds for all three species; establishment of one new Orcutt's spineflower occurrence; supplementation of population numbers and stewardship management to maintain approximately sixteen existing occurrences of Orcutt's spineflower and one existing occurrence each of short-leaved dudleya and Orcutt's brodiaea.

Otay Mesa Rare Plants

The Otay Mesa Rare Plants Project will improve the conservation status of several of San Diego County's rarest plants on important conserved lands in Otay Mesa. The Project includes seed bulking for two high-priority Management Strategic Plan (MSP) plant species and direct restoration of five MSP plants with seeding, planting, and maintenance. Seeding, planting, and maintenance for the MSP plants will be conducted as part of two separate habitat restoration projects, one to restore vernal pools and maritime succulent scrub and another to restore maritime succulent scrub and native grasslands.

Otay River Valley Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration and Enhancement

The goal of this three-year project (#5004730) is to increase the amount of suitable habitat and improve connectivity for the coastal cactus wren along Otay River Valley through restoration and enhancement of degraded habitat areas. This project will complement the existing coastal cactus wren habitat restoration project proposed by the City of Chula Vista within the Otay River Valley and Salt Creek as part of the current Transnet EMP grant cycle. The coastal cactus wren restoration program in the Otay River Valley and Salt Creek area address the immediate needs of the coastal cactus wren where loss and degradation of existing wren habitat has occurred due to historical cattle grazing, increase of invasive plant species, unauthorized off-road vehicle use, drought, and vegetation succession processes. Activities included in this program include invasive species control with follow-up herbicide treatments, shrub thinning, collecting and planting coast cholla and coast prickly pear cuttings, native grass and forb seed collection and redistribution, vegetation monitoring, and focus cactus wren monitoring. An additional grant (#5004944) was awarded the first year of project implementation that provided access control fencing to the #5004730 project. Activities for the proposed project include the installation of t-post barbless wire fencing around the 3.5 acre CACW restoration area, in addition to installing 8 signs stating "Habitat Restoration Area - No Trespassing." This project would fulfill the immediate need for access control to the CACW restoration area, deterring off-road vehicles, bikers, equestrians, and other trails users from entering the project site. By providing funding for access control to this restoration and enhancement site, it will increase the success of EMP Grant #5004730.

Otay Tarplant and San Diego Thornmint Restoration and Enhancement Program in the Chula Vista Central City Preserve

A three-year, TransNet-funded project (#5001590) to restore and enhance Otay tarplant (Deinandra conjugens) and San Diego thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia) in the Chula Vista Central City Preserve. Project goals were to: 1) Restore native grassland and clay lens habit habitat for Otay tarplant, San Diego thornmint, and other MSCP-covered species, including variegated dudleya (Dudleya variegata) and small-flowered morning glory (Convolvulus simulans) in areas currently dominated by weeds; 2) Increase the size of Otay tarplant and San Diego thornmint populations; 3) Reduce competition with non-native weeds that are invading the native grassland habitat and degrading the rare plant habitat by controlling annual non-native grasses and perennial weed species such as fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and artichoke thistle (Cynara cardunculus); and 4) Increase native grassland habitat by planting purple needlegrass (Stipa [=Nassella] pulchra) in areas currently dominated by non-native grasses and other weeds.

Pallid Bat Surveys - Sweetwater Marsh

The Living Coast Discovery Center, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Cabrillo National Monument, and the San Diego National History Museum will conduct surveys to determine bat species composition on and around the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The primary goals of this project are to establish permanent survey locations within Sweetwater Marsh, to contribute to the data collection in regional bat studies, and to establish site-specific bat habitat threat reduction and management plan based on the survey results. Strong historical research suggests that the pallid bat is likely utilizing Sweetwater Marsh for foraging and roosting at this time, This project will enable the Living Coast to contribute to larger regional conservation efforts, working with USFWS to improve the management of Sweetwater Marsh to mitigate environmental threats to the pallid bat, and contribute to the general public's greater awareness of local MSP species in San Diego. Funding this program will significantly leverage SANDAG's conservation efforts by awardee- The San Diego National History Museum- funded by Environmental Mitigation Program funds.

Pollinator Monitoring Plan

Declines of insects are being reported worldwide and includes several pollinator species in California. With reduced abundances and loss of species, there is a possibility that the ecosystem function of pollination is being compromised. The most common pollinators are Hymenoptera (bees and wasps), Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies), and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). Overall, about 87 percent of plant species are pollinated by insects. San Diego Association of Governments TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program's Regional Management and Monitoring 2021-2022 and 2023-2024 workplans include objectives to improve wildlife movement. These objectives are based on the San Diego Management and Monitoring Program's Management and Monitoring Strategic Plan for Conserved Lands in Western San Diego County (MSP Roadmap; SDMMP and TNC 2017). Objectives for 2022-2026 are to prepare and implement a monitoring plan to survey pollinator communities and assess ecological integrity of pollinator functions in coastal sage scrub, chaparral, forblands and grasslands across the MSP Area. This project will prepare pollinator data in 2021 for analysis in 2022 and development of a pollinator monitoring pilot study plan in 2023 to be implemented in 2024. This plan is being prepared in conjunction with a coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and grassland vegetation monitoring plan. Pollinator sampling locations will be co-located at vegetation sampling plots.

Population Genetic Analysis of 6 Rare Plant Species in San Diego County

The first phase (years 1-2) of this research task focused on genetic and cytological screening to determine potential ploidy and population genetic differences among occurrences within species. Upon completion, an expert panel convened to review results of the genetic studies and develop specific recommendations for each species relative to the MSP management objectives planned for that species. These recommendations included designing appropriate common garden or reciprocal transplant studies to determine the fitness consequences of using seed from different populations to increase population size or establish new occurrences. The recommendations also addressed MSP objectives involving seed banking and seed bulking needs for each species. The expert panel also made recommendations on genetic management of populations, including whether genetic connectivity needs to be enhanced or restored to maintain or increase genetic diversity. Recommended and approved studies will be added in the second phase (beginning in year 3). The following questions were specifically addressed in phase 1: 1. What is the status of documented occurrences? 2. Is there evidence of mixed ploidy levels among or within occurrences? 3. What is current genetic structure among and within occurrences in the MSPA? How vulnerable are the occurrences to genetic drift and loss of genetic diversity and is there gene flow between occurrences? 4. Are there signatures of genetic bottlenecks or lower genetic diversity in populations that have undergone recent reductions due to fire, drought, or other causes, or evidence of local adaptation? 5. Based on the cytological and genetic analysis, what are the recommendations for common garden and reciprocal transplantations, for collecting, bulking and distributing seeds for enhancing existing occurrences, and for establishing new occurrences?

Post-Fire Monitoring
Umbrella Project
Continued Investigation into the Response and Recovery of Plants and Animals from the 2003 and 2007 San Diego Wildfires

This study involves sampling terrestrial biodiversity at pitfall arrays at each of the four original pitfall trapping study sites that were sampled after the 2003 wildfires. Additionally, the USGS will conduct surveys at the San Diego Wild Animal Park which burned completely during the 2007 wildfires. This study involves synthesizing what has been learned over the course of a multi-taxa multi-year investigation of the response and recovery of plants and animals to the 2003 and 2007 wildfires in San Diego County.

Post-Fire Monitoring - Herpetofauna sampling

This study involves sampling herpetofauna at 65 pitfall arrays during two summer sample periods at each of the four pitfall trapping study sites.

Post-Fire Monitoring - Terrestrial Biodiversity Vegetation Transects

This task involves conducting one round of standardized vegetation transects at each of the 65 pitfall arrays divided among the four study sites.

Post-Fire Monitoring -Small Mammal Sampling

This study involves sampling small mammals at pitfall arrays during four sample periods at each of the four pitfall trapping study sites that were sampled after the 2003 wildfires. Macro-invertebrate and ant samples were to be collected.

Post-Fire Monitoring - Arroyo Toad Surveys

The arroyo toad surveys in southern San Diego County are part of an investigation of the impacts of fire on arroyo toads. In 2007, the Witch, Harris and Poomacha fires burned approximately 300,000 acres of wildlands in San Diego County. Many of the burned lands are currently conserved or are planned to be conserved under the San Diego County Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP). Riparian areas across four major watersheds were extensively burned during these 2007 fires, many of these streams support arroyo toad populations. The USGS (coordinating with the San Diego Association of Governments, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, City of San Diego, and County of San Diego) is investigating how specific target species will respond to these massive fires and resultant changes in stream morphology, vegetation communities, and vegetation structure over a five-year time period. The goal of this study is to provide information that will allow future land management decisions to include considerations of the effects of large wildfires on the biological community structure and function, especially for those species covered by conservation plans such as the San Diego County MSCP.

Post-Fire Monitoring - Riparian Bird Richness, Abundance, and Diversity
Umbrella Project
Monitoring and Documentation of Post-Fire Recovery of Riparian Bird Community

A 2-year study on the effects of fire on the riparian bird community in San Diego County. Tasks included documenting the effects of the 2007 fires on endangered birds, in particularly, the Least Bell's Vireo, and monitoring post-fire recovery of the entire riparian breeding bird community.

Prioritizing Conserved Areas Threatened by Wildfire and Fragmentation for Monitoring and Management

In many parts of the world, the combined effects of habitat fragmentation and altered disturbance regimes pose a significant threat to biodiversity. This is particularly true in Mediterranean-type ecosystems (MTEs), which tend to be fire-prone, species rich, and heavily impacted by human land use. Given the spatial complexity of overlapping threats and species' vulnerability along with limited conservation budgets, methods are needed for prioritizing areas for monitoring and management in these regions. We developed a multi-criteria Pareto ranking methodology for prioritizing spatial units for conservation and applied it to fire threat, habitat fragmentation threat, species richness, and genetic biodiversity criteria in San Diego County, California, USA. We summarized the criteria and Pareto ranking results (from west to east) within the maritime, coastal, transitional, inland climate zones within San Diego County. Fire threat increased from the maritime zone eastward to the transitional zone, then decreased in the mountainous inland climate zone. Number of fires and fire return interval departure were strongly negatively correlated. Fragmentation threats, particularly road density and development density, were highest in the maritime climate zone, declined towards the east, and were positively correlated. Species richness criteria showed distributions among climate zones similar to those of the fire threat variables. When using species richness and fire threat criteria, most lower-ranked (higher conservation priority) units occurred in the coastal and transitional zones. When considering genetic biodiversity, lower-ranked units occurred more often in the mountainous inland zone. With Pareto ranking, there is no need to select criteria weights as part of the decision-making process. However, negative correlations and larger numbers of criteria can result in more units assigned to the same rank. Pareto ranking is broadly applicable and can be used as a standalone decision analysis method or in conjunction with other methods.

Proctor Valley Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Barrier

Installation of the original Proctor Valley off-road barrier segments began in the southwest section of the valley in 2009 on City of San Diego, Public Utilities property and was partially funded by a Land Management Grant (#5001137). Subsequent project proposals submitted to SANDAG EMP, as well as other funding sources, resulted in additional OHV barrier sections installed on CDFW property (2010-2011; #5001327), followed in 2014, via a submission by Chaparral Lands Conservancy (and partners) for a project intended to complete the barrier along the remaining open space stretches of Proctor Valley Road (LMG #5001971). This last section included privately owned lands and CDFW's RJER Proctor Valley East unit. The section of barrier fence included in this project was originally planned for installation in 2014, as part of the EMP funded Proctor Valley Vehicle Barriers Project (Chaparral Lands Conservancy). However, that project ran out of funds following unexpected steep increases in the price of steel. Implementation of the CDFW project (#5004941) is consistent with the implementation of the Fire and Wildlife Action Plan (FWA) assigned to golden eagle, Quino checkerspot butterfly and Hermes copper butterfly via the limitation of access to OHV activities, thus reducing wildfire risk (and preventing other impacts) to their habitats. This project will also maintain large (>300 acres) open areas within golden eagle territories to meet foraging habitat conditions preferred by eagles. This project was intended to reduce/prevent wildfires and other impacts from unauthorized activities on conserved lands in Proctor Valley. There is an urgent need to control access and prevent impacts before such pressures lead to increased unauthorized access. With the installation of the new OHV barrier section, CDFW staff can focus limited resources on management actions necessary to prevent unauthorized vehicle intrusion from adjacent private lands, now that direct access from Proctor Valley Road has been eliminated.

Proctor Valley Vernal Pools and Uplands Habitat Restoration Project

The Proctor Valley Vernal Pool and Uplands Habitat Restoration Project will complete restoration of 19 acres of vernal pools and coastal sage scrub in Proctor Valley on the City of San Diego's Otay Lakes Cornerstone Lands, a biological core area under the San Diego MSCP. The Project includes restoration of vernal pools and coastal sage scrub habitat and establishment of occurrences of two high-priority Management Strategic Plan (MSP) plants with seed collection, seed bulking, propagation, planting and seeding, and maintenance. The Project also includes restoration of habitat specific to the needs of several MSP animal species through seeding and planting of host and nest plants, construction of artificial burrows, and other measures. Project partially funded by SANDAG TransNet EMP Land Management Grant #5001972 and #5004955.

Quarry Creek Preserve Fencing Project

SDHC will install additional fencing to prevent trespassers from entering vulnerable areas of the preserve that have historically been disturbed by trespassers and encampments. This project was partially funded by SANDAG TransNet EMP Land Management Grant #S1125500.

Quino checkerspot regional surveys

In 2023, a regional effort, funded by SANDAG, surveyed for quino checkerspot throughout San Diego County. Results from this effort are posted in the data section.

Quino Habitat Restoration

The County of San Diego proposes to reduce a threat to the Quino checkerspot butterfly by increasing and improving habitat on a County-owned site that had previously supported a hundred or more butterflies. The Quino is threatened by development pressure, invasion by non-native grasslands (NNG) and forbs, and, likely, changes to climate and long-term drought. It is considered an MSP Category SL (species at risk of loss). The County intends to significantly enhance improve Quino habitat conditions and connectivity by: 1) identifying and closing roads/portions of road on the site to vehicular activity; 2) preventing off-road vehicle activity that may be bifurcating and destroying Quino habitat; 3) fencing and signing these areas to be restored; 4) controlling and removing invasive NNG that compete with plantago erecta, the primary Quino habitat and food source seeding areas with primarily native plant species required for Quino survival; 5) documenting site condition improvements as well as any beneficial effect for Quino,

Quino Herbicide Study

This project was designed to test for any effects of the commercially available taxon-specific herbicides Fusilade II, Transline, and application surfactant on Quino checkerspot butterfly larval development, survival, and pupal weights. The experimental design tested for direct and indirect effects on the proportion of larvae that pupate as well as the weights of the pupa. Part of this project was completed as Task 2 under LAG agreement #P0982020 in place of Triolored blackbird task.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV2)

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) was detected in Palm Springs in March 2020 and Ramona in April 2021. It is highly contagious and often lethal to wild and domestic rabbits, hares, and pikas. Infected rabbits may or may not exhibit symptoms leading up to their death. Symptoms are rabbits may suffer are fever, swelling, inappetence, lethargy, spasms, breathing difficulties, blue colored lips or mucous membranes, bleeding from body cavities, and liver necrosis. The disease is transmitted to rabbits through contact with other infected rabbits or carcasses, their meat or their fur, contaminated food or water, or materials coming into contact with them. The virus can persist in the environment for a very long time, making disease control efforts extremely challenging once in wild rabbit populations.

Ramona Grassland Raptor Monitoring

A 3-year raptor study was initiated by the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation to collect baseline information on eagle and other raptor activity at the Ramona Grasslands Preserve (preserve). The purpose of this study is to conduct an eagle/raptor foraging study for the Preserve and golden eagle nest monitoring in Bandy Canyon. Baseline information will provide a better understanding of species abundance and distribution within the Preserve, and be useful in informing management decisions (e.g., trail feasibility and alignments, seasonal closures) and will provide a reference point for any future studies or assessments pertaining to public use.

Rapid Assessment Protocols

USGS will conduct a survey protocol design optimization using existing datasets. Species accumulation curves will be produced and used to inform the necessary number of surveys (or survey days) required to document the presence of most species. The USGS will also analyze detection rates and/or detection probabilities of prioritized target species, both native and non-native, to inform the necessary number of surveys required for rapid assessment.

Rare Bat Monitoring

Pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) and Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendiil) have both been proposed as protected species in the North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan and are included in the MSP. These two species are believed to be at high to moderate risk of loss in the MSP area because of their low numbers and sensitivity to human disturbance. However, their population status, locations of roosts (diurnal, nocturnal. and maternity), primary foraging areas, water sources used, threats and connectivity between populations in the MSP area are largely unknown. The lack of information makes it difficult to implement appropriate management actions to conserve their habitats. The MSP identifies this work as a priority for implementation starting in 2016 (MSP, Vol 2, pallid bat: P. 2-104-112 and Townsend's big-eared bat: P. 2-168-177). In 2016, the SDNHM under contract to USGS will continue to survey areas with known pallid and Townsend's big-eared bat occurrences in MUs 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 as identified in the MSP and in other high potential sites based on previous survey work by USGS and the SDNHM, including areas in North County and potentially areas adjacent to the MSP. Other areas inside and outside the MSP will be determined in coordination with SANDAG and the SDMMP. A variety of methods will be used (roost surveys, mist-netting, acoustic surveys, etc.) to identify and map the primary roosts and foraging areas used by pallid bat (MSP, Vol. 2. Table 2-1 .34, RS objective) and Townsend's big-eared bat (MSP, Vol. 2, Table 2-2.1 1, RS objective). Roost surveys will document diurnal, nocturnal and maternity roosts. Bat use will be evaluated and environmental covariate data collected, including a threat assessment. Recommendations will be developed for any needed management actions at each roost site. Surveys will identify primary foraging and water source areas used by pallid and Townsend's big-eared bats. Environmental covariate data will be collected at foraging and water source sites, including an assessment of habitat quality. Management measures will be developed to maintain or improve foraging habitat and water sources. Tissue samples will be collected for use in determining genetic connectivity between populations. Mist netting will document age class, gender ratio, reproductive condition, recruitment weight, ecotoparasite load, and overall condition in areas where bats are captured. All species of bats captured in nets will be documented. The information collected in this study will be used to develop an Implementation Plan in 2017 that prioritizes management actions to protect roosts from disturbance and ensures sufficient roosts for seasonal temperature requirements and for reproduction. And enhances foraging habitat in MUs 3, 4, 5, and 6 (MSP, Vol. 2. Tables 2-1.34 and 2-2 .11. PIP objective).

Umbrella Project
Bat Management in San Diego County

This is a planned 2-year Study. In 2015 and 2016, the SDNHM, under contract to USGS, will survey areas with known pallid and Townsend's big-eared bat occurrences in MUs 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 as identified in the MSP and in other high potential sites based on previous survey work by USGS and the SDNHM, including areas in North County and potentially areas adjacent to the MSP.

Rare Plant Baseline Surveys

Conduct surveys of rare plants and develop a rare plant survey protocol (ISV).

Rare Plant IMG Monitoring
Umbrella Project
Rare Plant Inspect and Manage Monitoring 2014-2026

From 2014-2026, a Management and Monitoring Strategic Plan (MSP Roadmap) monitoring objective for 30 rare plant species is to inspect occurrences to determine management needs. The inspect and manage (IMG) objective is implemented to document the status of rare plant occurrences and assess habitats and threats to develop specific management recommendations. IMG monitoring is implemented by a combination of land managers and contracted biologists in coordination with the SDMMP. Available rare plant data is posted below. New annual updates are typically posted in March. Based upon an evaluation of these data, a 2014-2026 monitoring schedule has been developed for the 30 rare plant species (attached below). Coordinating data collection across the region allows analyses of species and population trends over time and provides a better understanding of the association between habitat and threat covariates and population dynamics.

Rare Plant Management and Seed Plan

MSP Roadmap 2019 and 2020 objectives include developing a Management Strategic Plan Framework Rare Plant Management Plan for Conserved Lands in Western San Diego County and a Management Strategic Plan Seed Collection, Banking, and Bulking Plan for Conserved Lands in Western San Diego County. These plans include general sections with background information and rationale for prioritizing and developing management recommendations with separate chapters and specific recommendations for priority species. In 2019, general framework sections were developed along with species chapters for San Diego thornmint, Nuttall's acmispon, salt marsh bird's-beak and Otay tarplant (CBI, AECOM and SDMMP 2020 a,b). In 2020, chapters will be developed for short-leaved dudleya, Orcutt's spineflower, and willowy monardella. These plans are developed with input and guidance provided by the Rare Plant Management Group Steering Committee and species working groups. Participants in these groups include landowners and managers, scientists, species experts, restoration specialists, seed collection and banking practitioners, and representatives from non-profit organizations and wildlife agencies. These plans are based on the latest scientific information for species on habitat relationships, ecology, genetics, seed collection guidelines, and best management practices. Occurrence-specific management recommendations are based on working group input and multiple years of Inspect and Manage monitoring data on population status, habitat associations and threats. These are living documents as new species chapters are added as they are developed and existing chapters are revised when new information becomes available or management actions are completed, and new recommendations are needed.

Recreation and Wildlife Studies
Umbrella Project
Wildlife Response to Human Recreation on NCCP Reserves in San Diego County

Adaptive land protection and management strategies are fundamental to accomplishing the stated species and habitat conservation goals of federal Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and California Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) efforts. In San Diego County, the current NCCP reserve system includes more than 200,000 acres of protected lands, which are monitored and managed by multiple jurisdictions. The Wildlife Agencies (FWS and DFW, collectively), environmental groups, and reserve managers would like an improved understanding of how various threats and stressors may be affecting reserve performance for the benefit of 103 plant and animal species. The intent of this applied research project was to complement the existing species and habitat monitoring efforts in San Diego County by developing a program to assess the possible effects of human recreation on wildlife populations. Specific objectives for first phase of this project were to: (1) Develop recommendations for research studying the effects of recreation on wildlife species; and (2) Test methods for monitoring recreation and complete a pilot field study. The second phase of this study was to implement a well designed study that integrates species monitoring with recreation monitoring to systematically assess recreation's direct and indirect effects on sensitive wildlife species, to improve the understanding of the trade-offs inherent in multiple-use management of reserves, and to ensure that NCCP reserves are providing the required levels of protection and achieving the goals of the NCCP program.

Regional Grazing Monitoring Plan

This project evaluates using grazing as a management tool for degraded grasslands and coastal sage scrub habitat. Pilot projects will be conducted to look at the efficacy of grazing as management tool and necessary monitoring techniques.

Regional Invasive Plant Management

This project implements the Invasive Plant Strategic Plan (IPSP; TransNet EMP Land Management Grant #5001322), a strategic plan for the management and monitoring of invasive plant species on a regional level. The County of San Diego's Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures (AWM), under an agreement with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is tasked with the initial implementation of the IPSP. Invasive plants in the plan are addressed and removed in order of their priority level.

Riparian Restoration and Arundo Removal

This project is to remove arundo donax and other non native plants located in an 11 acre 'old growth' riparian forest in the channel of the San Diego River. This area, received a great deal of arundo corms and stakes during the first El Nino storm series of 2016. They arundo stakes formed dikes and debris lines several feet high. Although the area has been cleared of arundo for several years, this flooding brought an inordinate amount of arundo stakes and corms into the riparian forest. They are all sprouting and need to be cleared out to get the infestation under control while it is small enough to be controlled with limited effort.

San Diego Fairy Shrimp Genetics Studies
Umbrella Project
Human impact to vernal pool complexes in Southern California

The flagship species for San Diego County's vernal pools is the federally endangered San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis: SDFS). For this species, the most critical management issues are likely to involve population connectivity. Degradation of the landscape, direct damage (often by vehicles), creation of new basins (most often road ruts) and increasing biotic connectivity (beyond historic levels) are also important factors. The specific goals of this study were focused in three areas: landscape genetics in the San Diego fairy shrimp B. sandiegonensis; hybridization between B. sandiegonensis and B. lindahli; and conservation, management and recovery of B. sandiegonensis. This was a project jointly funded by SANDAG and a CDFW Section 6 grant.

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge: Mother Miguel Mountain

This three-year project will protect sensitive species, including Mexican flannelbush, and critical habitat on the southwestern slope of Mother Miguel Mountain, while managing public access in a manner that will create within those who visit the site an awareness and appreciation of the need to respect the habitats and species present on the Refuge.

San Diego River Channel

This project will take place on 148 acres of the San Diego River Biological Corridor between Santee border to Channel Road in Lakeside. The largest threat to the river is illegal lodging. Homeless individuals and groups in Lakeside always want to use the San Diego River Channel for illegal lodging and we are starting to get hunters in the riverbed as well. Although everyone makes their best effort to ensure that we remove the camps, it is done on an ad hoc basis without regular staff support. Recently, there has been an uptick in illegal lodging in the riverbed. This ls due to their use of a large culvert that drains into the river as as well as the removal of other illegal lodging locations in other areas of the river in other communities. All of the communities along the river are working hard to remove this population, which just creates a shuffle of individuals and camps between areas and communities. We have also had reports of hunters in he river. This needs be be stopped. With homeless comes trash, the cutting of fences, the removal of hazardous waste including sanitary issues, as well as needles and drug paraphernalia.

San Diego RiverBlitz

Volunteer citizen science teams hike segments of the urban San Diego River to collect data about trash, homeless encampments, and invasive plants. This data is collected using a data mapping app called Mappler. RiverBlitz takes place twice annually, allowing for year-over-year comparisons of point-in-time data. On-going surveys and data mapping efforts supplement the RiverBlitz program, allowing the San Diego River Park Foundation to initiate real-time responses to trash and invasive plant species.


Project will expand and enhance three populations of San Diego thornmint (ACIL) on San Diego Habitat Conservancy managed properties. Project main goals are to improve ACIL habitat, and increase the ACIL seed bank to reduce the likelihood of extirpation. This project is partially funded by SANDAG TransNet EMP Land Management Grant #S1125501.

San Diego Thornmint Genetic Analysis

Genetic studies were performed on San Diego Thornmint to help inform restoration practices. In this project, plant material was collected from a number of populations, a collection of seeds was gathered to obtain a representative sample of genetic diversity, a conduction of analysis of rangewide ploidy and isozomes was performed, and quarterly and annual reports were given to indicate progress and accomplishments. The Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM), National Forest Genetics Laboratory of the USDA Forest Service, and the Applied Ecology Division of the Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global designed and conducted the studies. Project partially funded by SANDAG TransNet EMP Land Management Grant #5001964

San Diego Thornmint Restoration

The goal of the project is to improve and expand areas occupied by the San Diego thornmint (MSP Category SO [Significant occurrence(s) at risk of loss from MSPA]) within Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Fortuna through restoration and enhancement of degraded habitat. This program addresses the immediate needs of thornmint within the MTRP by building on the on-going City weed treatment effort (based on SANDAG-funded CBI protocols to address Brachypodium distachyon) to address loss and degradation of existing thornmint habitat due to an increase of invasive plants and drought. Activities included in this program consist of herbicide treatment, thornmint and other native seed collection, seed bulking and redistribution, vegetation monitoring, photo monitoring, and thornmint monitoring. The methodologies used in conjunction with this proposal are similar to those used to restore approximately .25 acres of Pogogyne nudiuscula (Otay Mesa Mint) vernal pool habitat located in Otay Mesa. This project is consistent with the management objectives and actions prescribed in CBl's / SDMMP's Adaptive Management Framework for the Endangered San Diego Thornmint, the MTRP Natural Resources Management Plan, and the City of San Diego MHPA - Eastern Area MSCP Subarea Plan. Herbicide weed treatment within the thornmint population at MTRP Fortuna last occurred in 2014 and 2015.

San Diego Tracking Team Transect data verification

The San Diego Tracking Team is undertaking systematic data verification/review by deploying trail cameras at survey locations (placement to be determined by the transect leader) for one year (or two opposite seasons) per survey location, in rotation and/or as cameras become available. Feedback will be used to modify protocol where appropriate but primarily as a supplemental data source.

San Dieguito Citizen Science Monitoring Program

The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC) developed the San Dieguito Citizen Science Monitoring Program as a sustainable, cost-effective, and scientifically valid approach to gather critical data on lands within the San Dieguito River Park Focused Planning Area. This program seeks to fill knowledge gaps on the diversity, population, movements and spatial ecology of species within the watershed to better inform future land acquisitions, adaptive land management, habitat and species restoration, educational initiatives and future research. One of the main objectives of this program is to gather data that is consistent and shared with other regional planning efforts being coordinated by the San Diego Management & Monitoring Program. Data collected is submitted to regional databases and will help meet the management goals and objectives identified in the Management & Monitoring Strategic Plan. Annual expert-led surveys are carried out by volunteer citizen scientists following approved protocols and encourage community involvement and engagement.

San Pasqual Habitat Restoration and Cactus Nursery Project

The goal of this project is to develop and begin implementing a subwatershed-level management plan to restore and manage native habitat to support a stable, resilient Coastal Cactus Wren population in the San Pasqual Valley/Lake Hodges region of the San Dieguito Watershed. This subwatershed is one of the most biologically significant areas in S. California for CACW and requires immediate attention. This project includes the primary landowners and managers in the area to identify, prioritize, and implement habitat management within the subwatershed context to ensure quality habitat and healthy CACW populations. This will be done by evaluating CACW habitat quality, distribution, size, and connectivity, as well as mapping known locations of CACW pairs. Based on this information, key sites are identified to target management and restoration to maximize effectiveness both ecologically and economically. Of particular interest is increased connectivity of habitat patches to provide support for CACW movement, dispersal and colonization throughout the subwatershed. To do this, the goal will be to enhance and restore habitat based landscape priorities and utilize best restoration techniques to ensure successful restoration.

Umbrella Project
San Pasqual Habitat Restoration and Cactus Nursery Project

Provide habitat connectivity between Lake Hodges and the Safari Park for cactus wren expansion and establish a cactus nursery in North County for habitat restoration for cactus wren. This is an on-going project that has multiple funding sources.

SDMMP Summary of Achievements 2008-2024

As a program, SDMMP has regionally monitored 52 species and regionally surveyed 68 species across all taxa; monitored and/or mapped 8 vegetation communities; and modeled, assessed, and mapped 8 threats and stressors. Additionally, the SDMMP has completed 27 genetic studies, 80 research studies, 18 habitat models, and interacted with more than 75 partner groups. The table provided breaks down management and monitoring tasks that have been completed by species, vegetation community, and threats.

Shinohara Vernal Pool Restoration

In 2007 the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge began work to restore approximately 30 acres of vernal pool habitat on the former Shinohara parcel. The overall goal of the vernal pool restoration project was to establish healthy vernal pool habitat and associated coastal sage scrub/native grassland where vernal pool and other native flora and fauna are likely to persist. In April 2007, the restoration site was dethatched and more than 60 degraded vernal pool basins were deepened. Weed control was conducted annually in the growing seasons of 2007/2008, 2008/2009, and 2009/2010. One herbicide treatment was completed late in the 2011/2012 growing season. Where native flora was present in vernal pool basins, the basins were hand-weeded; otherwise, weeds were controlled with glyphosate herbicide. The restoration project included a combination of detatching, topographic re-contouring of basins, weed control, planting, and monitoring. In September 2007, 10 underground nest boxes for burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) were installed on the site. Starting in 2009, the number of owls on site gradually declined, and they have not been known to breed there since 2011. Decline in breeding is attributed to the development of the sage scrub habitat on the site.

Shot Hole Borer Surveys and Management Techniques

This project will contribute to development and dissemination of the essential building blocks of an effective lntegrative Pest Management (lPM) program used to prevent further spread and to manage impacts. The objectives are to: 1. Determine FD-SHB distribution with respect to key LBVI and SWFL habitat along the San Luis Rey River; 2. Evaluate preventative and curative biological, mechanical, and chemical control measures appropriate for different vegetation type 3. Train land managers on field identification of FD-SHB in Native Vegetation.

Small Vertebrate Underpass Study

In 2012, the small animal connectivity study began as part of Connectivity Monitoring Strategic Plan (CMSP) developed by the San Diego Monitoring and Management Program (SDMMP). There were three main objectives in this study. First, to determine which groups of small vertebrates are currently using or avoiding these wildlife underpasses and understand how these behaviors may be predicted by life history characteristics. Secondly, to investigate the effectiveness of adding cover structures to underpasses as a way to enhance small vertebrate use of underpasses. Third, to evaluate the extent to which larger vertebrates often used as focus species in connectivity studies in the region act as indicators of use by small vertebrate species.

South San Diego County Community Outreach

In 2011, Earth Discovery Institute (EDI) received a TransNet EMP Land Management Grant Contract #5001968. That grant allowed EDI to establish a Community Outreach Coordination program that has assisted the USFWS, CDFW, EHC, BLM, TNC, and CBI with interpretive and volunteer conservation events and environmental education aimed at improving public knowledge about and stewardship of South County preserved Lands. This one-year project will extend conservation outreach and environmental education. Two follow-up grants (#5001770 and #5004737) assisted in funding the project. Interpretive and habitat conservation events will support land management goals and agencies. Long-term stewardship will be built through student involvement. Access control and management will be supported by volunteer patrols. Quarterly newsletters will feature volunteer efforts and MSP priority species and habitats. The EDI website will provide access to habitat information as well as an incident reporting mechanism.

South San Diego County Grassland Project

The purpose of the project was to to develop landscape-scale, collaborative strategies for managing target grassland species in the South County MSCP. Phase I involved grasslands assessments, target selection, and experimental design while Phase II was the experimental design implementation. Develop BMPs for restoring native grassland and forbland habitat for Otay tarplant and Quino checkerspot. The native grassland habitat restoration experiment compared the effectiveness of seeding full extent vs. Desimone strip seeding method, determined whether recent fall burn impacts success of two seeding approaches, and evaluated whether hand weed control and seeding methods are as effective as mechanized methods. The research goal for forblands was to assess the effectiveness of two mechanized site preparation techniques that limit soil disturbance while reducing weed cover in sites with good access and low native forb cover.The research goal for Quino checkerspot butterfly was to assess the effectiveness of two seeding techniques in establishing Plantago erecta and other QCB forb species on difficult to reach sites and sites with sensitive soil crusts. The research goals for Otay tarplant were to evaluate the effectiveness of establishing OTP populations using hand broadcast seeding or two-way drill seeding and to determine if calcareous soils are limiting the establishment of OTP populations.

Southern Mule Deer Genetic Study - LAG funded

Southern mule deer connectivity study in the MSCP using DNA fingerprinting. The goals of this study were to: 1. Improve the laboratory methods to include more markers. 2. Genetically analyze both old and new mule deer samples with the full set of genetic markers. 3. Make management recommendations based on population genetic analyses, including how future changes in connectivity might be detected.

Southwestern Pond Turtle Recovery Project

The southwestern pond turtle (Emys marmorata pallida) is California's only extant native freshwater turtle and is in decline throughout its range, having been extirpated from much of coastal southern California. Historically, the pond turtle inhabited coastal draining streams, ponds, and lakes feeding primarily on small aquatic invertebrates and vegetation while having no native aquatic predators). However, threats to the pond turtle now include altered hydrology (dams and diversions), habitat fragmentation and direct mortality from roads and development, and predation by nonnative aquatic species including bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) and Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides). The San Diego Management and Monitoring Program (SDMMP) supports the MSCP and has developed the Management Strategic Plan to define the management area (the western portion of San Diego County; MSPA) with distinct management units (11 management units grouping preserves and preserve complexes; MU) within the MSPA to assist with prioritizing management actions to conserve the 75 species covered by the MSCP, including the pond turtle. Since 2002, USGS, in support of Sandag and SDMMP, has been conducting research on the natural history of southwestern pond turtle to understand the demography of rare and listed taxa in the region which includes the MSPA. This research includes studying the responses of the pond turtle to large scale threats, such as drought and wildfire, as well as smaller scale threats, such as from nonnative taxa. Specifically, our research seeks to understand the causes of decline of the pond turtle on conserved lands, which includes lands within the MSPA, and how the populations respond to management actions including pond turtle translocation and nonnative aquatic species removal.

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher surveys
Umbrella Project
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Status and Demography

This is a planned 5-Year study. USGS will conduct a 2-phased investigation to: 1) document the abundance and distribution of flycatchers in San Diego County; and 2) collect demographic data that will permit an assessment of the San Luis Rey River population within the larger contexts of MSPA and the state. During phase 1, drainage-wide surveys were conducted from Lake Henshaw downstream to College Boulevard in Oceanside between May and August 2015. These surveys were repeated in 2016, focused on sites outside of the San Luis Rey drainage that have historically supported resident southwestern willow flycatchers, including the Otay, Sweetwater, and San Diego Rivers, Santa Ysabel Creek, and Agua Hedionda. Phase 2 demographic data collection through monitoring started in 2016 and continued through 2017. In 2018, the focus is on monitoring flycatcher pairs in the upper San Luis Rey River study area, and banding and re-sighting color-banded flycatchers. Surveys will also be conducted outside the San Luis Rey drainage.

SR 94 Wildlife Infrastructure Plan

Proposed road improvements to SR 94 provide an opportunity to mitigate the potential barrier effects of the highway. This project identifies where improvements to existing infrastructure on SR-94 could improve connectivity across the South County preserves, using Best Management Practices from the scientific literature; recommends wildlife movement monitoring to identify where new crossings are needed; and identifies where additional conservation would enhance the integrity of South County linkages. The review prioritizes infrastructure improvements of 35 existing undercrossings inspected by wildlife experts in the field along 14.6 miles of SR-94 where the highway bisects conserved lands. The majority of the recommendations for infrastructure improvement focus on increasing the diameter, and thus the openness ratio (cross-sectional area divided by length), of the undercrossing itself, removing vegetation and debris blocking the undercrossing, restoring habitat in the approach to the undercrossing, and installing fencing to both (1) keep animals off the highway and (2) funnel wildlife to the undercrossings.

SR-67 Multi-species Connectivity Planning

A comprehensive multi-species analysis of connectivity for the area surrounding SR-67 in central San Diego County. Multiple modeling approaches are being applied to develop a wildlife crossing infrastructure plan for SR-67 and to design landscape linkages at the subregional level. This analysis directly address functional connectivity within the study area.

Status of the Regional Preserve System in Western San Diego County, 2020

This project is private for ITOC and EMP Working Group members until the report is finalized and through the USGS peer-reviewed process. If you have access, please do not share permission with anyone outside the working group. Full-size and reduced-size PDFs are available to download.

Thorne's Hairstreak Monitoring

The three primary objectives were (1) to document the extent of Thorne's hairstreak (TH) presence within the study area of Otay Mountain; (2) to characterize habitat association within that geographic range; and (3) to conduct larval experiments addressing the importance of tree age on the physiological performance of caterpillars. With reference to objective 1, it was found that the distribution of TH on Otay Mountain was more extensive than previous reports had suggested. Also examined was TH presence in the interior versus perimeter versus exterior of host plants stands. With reference to objective 2, variables characterizing vegetation and the environment were thoroughly documented but found to explain very little of the variation in TH presence/absence and abundance. Finally, larval experiments were able to definitively reject the hypothesis that older foliage might be important for larval growth. The implications of these findings for the conservation of TH are discussed. In brief, the following main conclusions were made: (1) The widespread range of the butterfly within the study area has positive implications for persistence, though it should be remembered that the entire study area is not itself large and is prone to wildfires. (2) TH appear to associate with the host trees under a range of environmental conditions on Otay Mountain, but this should not be taken to mean that a monoculture of the trees would be sufficient for TH population persistence; to the contrary, patch edge use by TH strongly suggests that variation in patch size, area, and configuration are important and desirable targets for management and conservation. (3) Finally, it is noted that these findings point the way towards research that could be conducted with TH or (more likely) with closely related species to address the importance of habitat configuration and heterogeneity on population dynamics.

Umbrella Project
UNR Thorne's Hairstreak Monitoring

Monitoring of the Thorne's hairstreak and mapping Tecate cypress. (1) Conduct occupancy surveys for Thorne's hairstreak adults and juveniles. (2) Characterize habitat associated with Thorne's hairstreak presence. (3) Age trees (by coring) in sampled stands of Tecate cypress. (4) Conduct larval and adult experiments to assess the importance of tree age for Thorne's hairstreak. (5) Analyze data from 2009 and 2010 and prepare final report.

Tijuana River Invasive Plant Control

This project was undertaken to enhance and restore prime riparian and mule fat habitats within the Tijuana River Valley though the treatment of invasive, non-native plants and the planting of native plant species.

TransNet EMP Land Management Grant 10th Cycle

This page hosts instructions and materials helpful to applying for the TransNet EMP Land Management Grant 10th Cycle. The tenth cycle of the TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program Land Management Grant Program Call for Projects was approved on October 22nd, 2021 and has released by the SANDAG Board of Directors on October 25, 2021. Applications and questions must be submitted via BidNet Direct. Questions are due no later than January 17th, 2022 and applications are due by January 31st, 2022. A virtual Pre-Proposal Workshop was held on November 16th to discuss the eligibility, submittal, and evaluation criteria and to answer any questions potential applicants had. The presentation from teat workshop is available below. Link to the workshop recording:

TransNet EMP Land Management Grants

This project page is where you can find information regarding the SANDAG TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program Land Management Grant (LMG) Program. This is a competitive grant program to maintain the integrity of existing regional habitat preserves through enhanced land management. Eligible applicants include land managers from private nonprofit organizations, local jurisdictions, and other government agencies. If you are current or former recipient of a LMG and would like to create a project page for this website, please download the directions on this page for creating and maintaining a project page on the SDMMP website. If you have come here for information on past LMG projects, you can access the Project List with links to past LMGs. You can also search for past LMGs in the library using the phrase "land management ";. Similarly, you can also search the library using a specific contract number. One more way to search for LMG projects is through the Project pages. You can filter the project pages by selecting the "Land Management Grant" category from the drop down.

Tricolored Blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) Surveys

Tricolored blackbird is a state-listed endangered species that has declined dramatically in southern California. Once abundant and widespread in San Diego County, there are few known breeding populations remaining at marshes on Conserved Lands. AECOM biologists surveyed for tricolored blackbirds in spring 2021 at historic and recently documented breeding habitats and at potentially suitable habitats. Surveys were to determine if tricolored blackbirds are present during the breeding season and to estimate population size and breeding status. AECOM biologists used a protocol developed by SDMMP to evaluate habitat quality and threats at each suitable habitat site, even those without tricolored blackbirds. These data , and data from subsequent yearly surveys, will be provided to SDMMP to develop management recommendations for tricolored blackbird. Tricolored blackbirds will be surveyed for annually.

Urban Runoff Studies
Umbrella Project
Argentine Ant Study

The USGS conducted the experimental implementation of sampling MSP sites during wet year conditions. The project utilized a stratified sampling design and a protocol developed in 2014. A combination of GIS and field measured covariates were used to identify drivers that impact Argentine ant population dynamics. The project also included developing potential measures to make the site less or unsuitable for Argentine ants. The outcome of this study will inform management actions for experimental implementation.

Urban Aseasonal Flow Study

Non-native plants and animals with associated changes to ecological processes cause threats to native plants and animals. The San Diego Management and Monitoring Program's Management Strategic Plan (MSP) identifies these threats and stressors, and presents goals and objectives to monitoring their affects. The MSP has prioritized the study of the impacts of urban aseasonal flow on local and regional stream systems. The issue of seasonal wetlands in urbanizing landscapes has received varying amount of attention. The runoff can create a range of results from increased soil moisture levels, to geomorphic changes in creeks and perennial flows in xeric landscapes. USGS is working with SDMMP and their partners in the Management Strategic Plan Area (MSPA) to determine what GIS covariates of land cover/land use might correlate with field measurements of the phenology of water presence in small watersheds. This will help to identify where urban runoff is providing habitat for aquatic nonnative problem species in areas inhabited by arroyo toads, western pond turtles and vernal pool areas. Study sites were selected using a spatial model including layers for watershed size, land use, and conserved lands. Site selection also considered surface water monitoring sites for arroyo toad monitoring (Brown et al. 2016) and surface flow monitoring stations used by the California Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region (SDRWQCB unpub. data). The combination of the three studies provide a network of surface water availability and temperature data from coastal San Diego to the foothills of the Cuyamaca, Laguna, Palomar, and Santa Margarita mountain ranges. A total of 56 sites were selected, assessed, and Stream Temperature, Indeterminacy, and Conductivity (STIC) loggers were deployed. This adds to the existing 64 loggers that were deployed to measure Arroyo toad habitat. For 120 loggers, the following steps took place. 1. The logger was placed in the field and the location was recorded with a high resolution GPS. 2. Photographs were taken of each logger location 3. Each site was revisited several times through 2015-2017 and native and non-native aquatic species were recorded. 4. The drainage area (or watershed size) for each logger was calculated in ArcGIS. 5. The land use upstream from the logger was assessed by calculating the percent urban, percent agriculture, percent open space, percent residential, and percent commercial/industrial. 6. Temperature and Conductivity were collected from loggers and graphed. Future work will include continued logging and graphing of temperature and conductivity, continued survey of the sites for native and non-native aquatic species, and statistical analysis

USFWS California Gnatcatcher Monitoring 2004-2009

California gnatcatcher occupancy study across San Diego County.

USGS Brown-headed cowbird management recommendations

Dr. Barbara Kus has been conducting a study on brown-headed cowbirds along the San Diego River and will develop recommendations for the control of brown-headed cowbirds based on study results.

Valley Fire Rare Plant Discovery Surveys

A project between the SDMMP and US Forest Service to establish and prioritize survey areas on Conserved Lands within the perimeter of the 2020 Valley Fire to document whether historic occurrences are extant and to discover new occurrences for 18 rare plant species. In 2022, AECOM and Conservation Biology Institute botanists surveyed areas for 18 target rare plant species and mapped the spatial extent of each new occurrence, counted or estimated the occurrence population size, and collected voucher specimens. They also photographed each new occurrence from a georeferenced location that captured a representative view of the occurrence. Botanists created a species list for the areas surveyed within the Valley Fire footprint. These areas included locations where rare plants were detected and mapped and negative data point areas where rare plants were not detected. In 2023, botanists shall again conduct surveys on suitable habitat on USFS lands burned in the 2020 Valley Fire. Results from these surveys should lead to a greater understanding of post-fire rare plant composition. In 2023, botanists may see species that did not emerge in the first year of surveys, and species found in the first year of surveys may have expanded their range. The 18 rare plant species included in the surveys are: San Diego thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia), Marvin's allium (Allium marvinii), Western spleenwort (Asplenium vespertinum), Deane's milkvetch (Astragalus deanei), Encinitas baccharis (Baccharis vanessae), San Diego goldenstar (Bloomeria clevelandii), Orcutt's brodiaea (Brodiaea orcuttii), Lakeside ceanothus (Ceanothus cyaneus), San Miguel savory (Clinopodium chandleri), Variegated dudleya (Dudleya variegata), Mission Canyon bluecup (Githopsis diffusa filicaulis), Ramona horkelia (Horkelia truncata), Heart-leaved pitcher sage (Lepechinia cardiophylla), Felt-leaved pitcher sage (Monardella hypoleuca lanata), Chaparral nolina (Nolina cismontana), Gander's ragwort (Packera ganderi), Moreno currant (Ribes canthariforme), and Parry's tetracoccus (Tetracoccus dioicus).

Vegetation Mapping & Classification
Umbrella Project
Vegetation Mapping and Classification 2012

This project first created a vegetation classification system and manual. Then, based on 2012 data, this project completed 3 tasks: Task 1. Vegetation Mapping. Task 2. Invasive Nonnative Species Plant Mapping. Task 3. Tecate Cypress Mapping. In 2014, the data was updated based on user's comments. The final products are available to download in the data section.

Vegetation Monitoring Methods
Umbrella Project
2005-2007 Prioritizing and Creating Conceptual Models for MSCP Species

This project was completed for California Department of Fish and Game Local Assistance Grant #P0450009, which assessed and improved the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program Biological Monitoring Plan. This project was a modular effort and included critical assessments and research on 1) the implementation of the monitoring program to date and information relevant to successful monitoring program design 2) prioritization of MSCP species based on threat, 3) prioritization of ecological communities based on extent and representation, and 4) development of conceptual models to aid monitoring and management. These steps follow the monitoring program design described in Atkinson et al. 2004 which can be found at:

2008-2010 Evaluating Vegetation Data Collection Methods

The objective of this NCCP Local Assistance Grant and SANDAG EMP funded project is to evaluate different sampling designs and field protocols for monitoring coastal sage scrub (CSS) and chaparral vegetation communities. This effort addresses one of the two broad goals of the monitoring program, namely monitoring biodiversity and ecosystem function. The objective of this project is to evaluate the cost and accuracy of different sampling designs and field protocols for monitoring coastal sage scrub (CSS) and chaparral vegetation. This project builds on the Franklin, Regan and Deutschman LAG project funded by CDFG (Agreement #P0450009) and complements two other LAG grants. These projects include a review of the rare plant monitoring program for the MSCP by McEachern et al. (Agreement # P0350011) and a review of the animal monitoring portion of the MSCP by the USFWS (Agreement #P0585100). This report follows and elaborates on ideas presented in two earlier reports submitted to CA DFG (Deutschman, Franklin, and Lewison - Agreement # P0685105; Deutschman - Agreement # P0782006).

2008-2011 Evaluating Remote Sensing Methods for Vegetation Monitoring

Identifying habitats that should be protected from further disturbance or conversion and isolating high-risk areas is a focus of community habitat plans in southern California shrublands. Larger wildfires are occurring at shorter intervals in recent decades, contributing to degradation and conversion of shrubland vegetation. Multitemporal remote-sensing approaches can bridge the gap between vegetation mapping and field sampling in habitats where frequent quantification and mapping of vegetation growth forms over large extents is required. The objective of this study is to examine the reliability and stability of a multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis (MESMA) approach with moderate spatial resolution imagery for monitoring changes in growth form fractional cover in shrubland habitats. Estimates from visual interpretation of high spatial resolution image were used as reference data for validating MESMA-derived maps and as basis for providing complementary monitoring protocols that may be accurate and cost-effective across multiple scales. Growth form proportions modelled in burned and unburned management areas compare well with expected fractional cover in mature and regenerating shrublands. In themanagement areas recovering from fire, herbaceous cover fraction exceeded 0.40 for all three study dates, suggesting that large portions of those management areas may already be invaded. From 2008 to 2011 overall herbaceous cover fraction in shrubland area increased by 2%. Herbaceous cover fraction was modelled with an overall mean absolute error (MAE) of 0.08, a smaller percentage than the percentage of herbaceous cover change recorded in areas recovering from fire (increase in herbaceous cover fraction from 0.09 to 0.13). This MESMA approach would be effective for quantifying changes in fractional cover that exceed 0.10, providing a way to delineate and quantify herbaceous invasions and expansions following disturbance or succession.

2010-2012 Refining Research Objectives and Data Collection Methods

A new phase of the vegetation monitoring program began in 2010. After several years focused on data collection and analysis, this project focused on closing the feedback loop as envisioned in Atkinson et al. 2004. Work involved a wide array of stakeholders to revise and update the goals and objectives of the monitoring and management plans, develop conceptual models for individual preserves, and adapt and apply management plans on individual preserves. One aspect of this work was a structured workshop. The workshop, based on the Dahlem model, was the first concrete step in facilitating collaborative decision making.

2017-2019 Developing a Map of Ecological Integrity Using Remote Sensing

This project's objective is to create a map of ecological integrity using remotely sensed data. Data sources include high resolution lidar and high resolution 4-band imagery from multiple sources. Final products from this work will include: 1) an updated high resolution Digital Elevation Model, 2) an updated high resolution Digital Surface Model, 3) a raster image depicting vegetation height (using lidar), 4) a raster image depicting herbaceous, shrub, and tree cover, 5) a map layer of ecological integrity (at a 50m grid) for coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodlands, and riparian woodlands. Ecological integrity is defined for each vegetation community independently, based on analysis of previous field work. This project will build off the information and products previously created.

Veldt Grass Removal - San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve

The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy (SELC) aims to secure funding to begin Phase I of eradicating perennial veldt grass (Ehrharta calycha) in the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve (Reserve). The invasive nonnative grass species currently occurs in Diegan coastal sage scrub, southern maritime chaparral, and riparian scrub habitats. It is also capable of invading coastal dune habitats, potentially displacing several high priority Management Strategic Plan (MSP) plant and animal species. SELC proposes to treat the current range of perennial veldt grass in the reserve and continue to monitor the spread or lack thereof. Perennial veldt grass ls currently under SMSP management level 3 for invasive non-native plants, and needs further evaluation and management information. The proposed project will provide crucial information regarding the species and the potential for its control and eradication.

Vernal Pool Restoration

The vernal pools at the Spring Canyon/Goat Mesa complex (J16-J18) and surrounding open space have suffered considerable off-road damage over the years. This damage has resulted in changes in hydrologic, flow patterns, and inundation characteristics. This vernal pools complex was identified by the adopted Recovery Plan for Vernal Pools of Southern California (USFWS 1998) as necessary to stabilize populations of the following endangered and threatened MSP species: E. aristulatum, P. nudiuscula, N. fossalis, O. californica, B. sandiegonensis, and S. wootoni. The Management Strategic Plan (MSP) for Conserved Lands in Western San Diego County (SDMMP) also lists other MSP species historically found onsite, including D. variegata, M. minimus, S. hammondii, and A cunicularia. Minimization of illegal off-road vehicle use is the primary goal. The main objective to reach the goal is to use to fence off as many of the key access points and areas of frequent off-road vehicle use throughout the City open space to protect the habitat for the endangered and threatened species that exist onsite. This will be done by hiring a fence contractor to provide all supplies and install the fence.

Wandering Skipper Surveys

Surveys for Wandering Skipper at 10 sites in coastal San Diego County.

Ward's Weed (Carrichtera annua) Management

Ward's weed is a new invasive weed species identified in parts of San Diego County, including Camp Pendleton, Carlsbad, Rancho La Costa, Del Mar, and Otay. This multi-jurisdiction control effort aims to eradicate the current San Diego infestations, which are also the only known infestations in North America. All efforts are towards stopping the spread beyond the known infestations and eradicating the known populations. Similar to the tumbleweed or Sahara mustard, which have spread throughout the western U.S., Ward's weed can do the same if not eliminated. In Australia, it was determined that a single introduction of Ward's weed in 1915 eventually spread throughout the continent. Ward's weed is a small compact plant in the mustard family that almost looks like a tiny tumbleweed. It is easy to identify by its small yellow flowers with four petals and unique beaked seed pod. Ward's weed can grow as a thick mat that chokes out all other surrounding plant species. Due to the extremely high seed count of up to 30,000 seeds per plant per year, this species can spread quickly and also presents a fire hazard in our open spaces and canyons. County AWM crews, as part of implementing the Invasive Plant Strategic Plan, are treating the weed in parts of Rancho La Costa HCA and at Del Mar Crest Reserve. City of San Diego Crews are treating the infestation at Robinhood Ridge in Otay. The Center for Natural Lands Management has and continues to treat the weed in portions of Carlsbad. A multi-organization (City of Carlsbad, Center for Natural Lands Management, County AWM, San Diego Habitats Conservancy, San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, and San Diego Management and Monitoring Program) effort is underway for Carlsbad's Bressi Ranch where the largest infestation of Ward's weed exists. Ward's weed is currently listed as Management Level 2 in the 2012 Invasive Plant Strategic Plan meaning that eradication is possible at a regional level. This is regionally a high priority species.

Wildlife Camera Workshop

The U.S. Geological Survey and The Nature Conservancy, in coordination with the San Diego Management and Monitoring Program, hosted a workshop on the use and design of wildlife camera studies in San Diego and the adjoining region. Topics included wildlife cameras used for connectivity surveys, targeted species documentation, diversity surveys, and invasive species monitoring. Following presentations, there was a group discussion on the direction of wildlife camera research and the potential for coordinated efforts and data management.

Wildlife Monitoring in the Volcan Mountains

Due to increasing land fragmentation and shrinking wildlife corridors throughout San Diego County and beyond, the Volcan Mountain Foundation (VMF) initiated a wildlife monitoring program in 2015 using several motion-detecting cameras at VMF's Volcan Mountain Nature Center. The Volcan Mountain Foundation also receives data images from other locations on the mountain range. The purpose of the program is to monitor the presence and patterns of wildlife. The Wildlife Imaging Team (WIT) is made-up of dedicated volunteers who maintain the cameras, review all of the images, and enter the data. The Volcan Mountain Foundation wishes to thank Bill and Susan Carter who founded WIT and the volunteers who spend countless hours making this program possible. Click the following link to see our data analysis: