Conservationists celebrate preservation of 1,300 acres of wilderness in East County

Proctor Valley between Chula Vista and Jamul will forever remain as it is now

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The long dirt road weaves through Proctor Valley and connects eastern Chula Vista with the sleepy community of Jamul. On both sides of Proctor Valley Road? Nothing. Just brush, a few trees and hills.

And that’s how it’s going to stay.

“We're all here celebrating,” said a smiling Cara Lacey. “We’re just thrilled that we were able to protect this land.”

The land Lacey is referring to is 1,300 acres along Proctor Valley Road inside the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve. It was slated to become a master plan community called Adara with 1,100 homes.

“It would have been an impenetrable or almost impenetrable barrier [for wildlife]” said Lacey, who represents The Nature Conservancy.

A collaboration of local, state, federal and tribal conservationists thwarted Adara by stopping it in court. The site was then acquired and added to the reserve, which sits inside the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge.

Lacey was quick to agree that San Diego has a need for more housing but argued it should be smart housing.

“There is a climate-smart place for housing where people are not at risk," Lacey said.

Wildfire is a constant threat in Proctor Valley. Lacey argued the development would have placed homes in a pile of matchsticks.

“It would have actually placed housing in an area where it was really at risk for people,” Lacey said. “[Preserving the land is] really a great thing for people and nature.”

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