Supervisors OK more open space near popular hiking spot

A view of Iron Mountain along the trail in Poway. (Credit: County of San Diego)

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously voted to purchase 160 acres of land surrounding Iron Mountain, a popular hiking area east of state Route 67 near Poway Road.

Poway Iron Mountain Estates LLC agreed to sell the parcel, which has an appraised value nearly $1.28 million, according to the county. Along with staff time, and title and protection costs, the county will spend almost $1.5 million, with $200,000 of the cost covered by a grant the county received from the state’s Habitat Conservation Fund in 2016.

According to board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, the county and the city of Poway have been working since 2015 to expand the Iron Mountain Preserve.

“This action is something that has been in the works for many, many years and I’m very excited to see this finally come to fruition,” Jacob said last month. “This acquisition will provide greater protected area to wildlife and habitat, (and) will add to the regional connection to other trails in the area such as the Transcounty Trail.”

Because the land includes habitat that can support numerous threatened species, it fits within the county’s Multiple Species Conservation Program, which was instituted in 1998. Over the past two decades, the county has invested $202 million to acquire more than 22,000 acres of open space to protect habitat and species.

Once the purchase is complete, the county plans to enter into an agreement with the city of Poway, which owns 1,123 adjacent acres, to manage the land with the exception of habitat monitoring that will be done by the county under the MSCP.

In other actions, the board voted to formally accept new private, developer-constructed public parks located in residential subdivisions.

The subdivisions are Harmony Grove Village, in Escondido; Horse Creek Ridge, in Fallbrook; Hillside Meadows, in Escondido; Meadowood, in Carmel Valley; Park Circle, in Valley Center; and Sweetwater Place, in Spring Valley.

Special taxes levied on properties within each subdivision, as part of a Community Facilities District, will pay for park maintenance costs.

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