They Didn’t Pave Paradise

Discover three places the Conservancy saved from becoming a parking lot

Bay Area: Marin Headlands

The headlands were destined to be a 2,000-acre development with 50 apartment towers, vast tracts of single-family homes and a mile-long shopping center. Instead it’s a beloved treasure in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, home to more endangered species than any other national park in the continental U.S.

Riverside: Santa Rosa Plateau

In 1984, development in Riverside County was booming, with plans in the works for this spectacular site. The Conservancy protected this important habitat, with its oaks, grasses and rare vernal pools (only about 2 percent of the original pools left in the state), by purchasing 3,100 acres from a housing development company. Soon, plans appeared for 4,000 tract houses next to the new preserve, and again the Conservancy and its partners acted to save this critically needed area, creating a 9,000-acre reserve that welcomes more than 60,000 visitors annually, including 7,000 to 8,000 school kids.

San Diego: Ramona Grasslands Preserve

California has lost a staggering 90 percent of its native grasslands, and yet plans were well under way to carve up more than 1,000 acres of this majestic prairie into residential subdivisions. Thankfully, the Conservancy and its partners conserved this classically Mediterranean valley, home to a wildly diverse group of animals including bobcats, golden eagles and the endangered giant kangaroo rat. The preserve encompasses the Santa Maria Creek, part of San Diego’s drinking water source.

  • Run the four-mile loop trail that starts at the Highland Valley Road parking area. Explore oak woodlands, rocky outcrops, diverse shrublands and, of course, grasslands. Keep your eyes peeled for the woolly blue curls, one of our favorite native plants.
  • For something less strenuous for the little ones, picnic at one of the shaded tables next to the pond, and watch for hawks and other large raptors that winter at the grasslands. Try the one-mile Meadow Loop, and get the feel of the wide open spaces of early California.  


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