A new land acquisition in East County has brought a local conservation group one step closer to their vision of a continuous trail stretching from the mountains to the sea.
Lakeside's River Park Conservancy (LRPC) bought 6.05 acres of wetland and riparian forest alongside the San Diego River in Lakeside Friday, said Robin Rierdan, the Executive Director of the Lakeside River Park.
“It is a critical link along the river that will connect two portions of the trail, and move us one step closer to reaching our goal of a 52-mile long trail from the mountains to the ocean,” said Rierdan.
Once fully restored, hikers, horse-riders and mountain bikers will be able to access the main San Diego River trail, as well as the county's bike path, according to LRPC. This project will also connect the East County Equestrian Foundation with the San Diego River Trail.
The land was acquired as part of a long-standing partnership that LRPC has with Serving Hands International, the philanthropic arm of The Caster Group, said Rierdan. The Environmental Enhancement Mitigation Program made the $181,000 land acquisition possible with a grant to LRPC.
"This acquisition enhances the ecological integrity of our local community while playing an important role for the future of recreation in San Diego County," said Rierdan, in a statement.
"I am pleased that we were able to protect this land from development pressures, and this will allow us to provide increased opportunities for people to enjoy it."
The land is known locally as the Caster Pond, with San Diego County's Cactus Park and Cactus BMX Park, just east of Highway 67 in Lakeside. Before LRPC bought the land, the Caster Pond was closed to the public.
With right of entry permits, the Conservancy has been allowed to send volunteers to clean up the property from trash, map invasive plant species and identify illegal activity from trespassers.
On Saturday, Apr. 22 the public will be invited to celebrate Earth Day at the newly-acquired property for the 15th annual Creek to Bay Cleanup. Volunteers will need to RSVP online.