Have you heard that San Diego is the most biologically diverse county in the nation? Well, we are! Because of our greatly varied ecosystem (from desert to mountains to ocean), San Diego provides habitat to approximately 200 at-risk plants and animals.

Recently, I’ve had a few different people curious about how property conservation is organized in our region. How is the conservation value of a property determined and who determines it?

Everyone has a plan

There are pieces of legislation and plans at the federal, state, county, and city levels and, if you click the links provided, you can get lost in a haze of acronyms and details. However, they all have a specific purpose and some important things in common.

Federal and state legislation and plans serve to guide the regional and local level planning efforts.

Our county and local governments actually obtain permission from federal and state levels to implement their plans in lieu of having all permits and conservation efforts travel up to the highest levels of government. The intention is to streamline development permitting and provide a locally based plan for developers’ mitigation requirements.

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At the regional level

At the regional level, San Diego’s conservation planning strives to be inclusive of public, private and corporate sectors. The goal is to develop a plan that everyone can be invested in to protect San Diego’s future.

Each plan identifies where endangered and at-risk plant and animal species currently exist and where there is habitat that would potentially provide a good home to future populations. Our conservation planning also prioritizes connectivity – meaning lands that connect all open spaces to each other and provide opportunities for plant populations to expand and animals to roam (without crossing dangerous highways).

In fact, we sometimes use species roaming patterns as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. For some great examples, take a look at the summary of this SDSU study.

There is a lot of detailed planning and time spent determining what properties in our region will help us build the healthiest future for generations to come.

The San Diego Foundation works with a long list of partners to play a role in regional conservation by managing more than $35 million in mitigation and property-related conservation funds supporting more than 14,000 acres of open space.

Read More About Mitigation