County purchase to preserve Lakeside’s El Monte Valley

In continuing efforts to preserve parts of the El Monte Valley in Lakeside, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to purchase 98 acres from the Helix Water District as part of its Sustainable Environments/Thriving Initiative. Now, Supervisor Joel Anderson and Chairman Nathan Fletcher are partnering on a policy to preserve this open space, protect habitat and ensure proper clean-up of the valley.

The property was originally identified for purchase last month because it would benefit Lakeside by providing opportunities for future trail connections, development of future recreational facilities, and retention of existing equestrian and youth sports field uses. The main channel of the San Diego River crosses the property and onsite habitat includes coastal sage scrub, riparian scrub, riparian forest, as well as disturbed and developed areas.

Fletcher said he is working for the county to partner with conservationists, foundations, tribal leaders and other elected officials to identify long-term funding to preserve and clean up the San Diego River Park at his State of the County Address on Feb. 18. He said this would provide the opportunity for future trail connections between existing County park facilities, the SDRP Regional Trail and Flume trails to the east.

“This clean-up project is a central part of my vision to create seamless connections to the San Diego River,” stated Fletcher in a press release. “By approving this project, we will preserve the land for species that inhabit this part of our county, enabling them to flourish in their natural surroundings; and provide an improved outdoor experience for our community to enjoy. Making this investment will pay dividends for our environment and the health and wellbeing of San Diegans.”

The $6 million will cleanup, repair and improve facilities prior to its use by the public. Some restoration action items may include adding accessible paths of travel, replacing picnic tables and bleachers, repairing faulty utility infrastructure, restoration of disturbed areas, and rehab the grass fields to make all ballfields playable. Further action items could include permanent ADA restrooms, a concession stand, renovated grass fields with water efficient irrigation systems.

Anderson said he is grateful for Fletcher’s leadership in working with him to bring this forward and hopes the rest of the board will commit to the immediate restoration of “this East County community treasure.”