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Habitat Conservation

Image of wilderness, hillsides with native grasses and a few trees.

The Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District (RCRCD) is a non-regulatory local agency that works to permanently protect land that has habitat, scenic, and/or agricultural values. The RCRCD connects blocks of habitat by preserving and restoring corridors or linkages for wildlife movement and migration. The RCRCD conserves open space habitat in three ways:

Restoration

The RCRCD currently has over 90 active restoration projects, where the work improves degraded habitat by removing invasive species, replanting native plants, restocking native animals, protecting the soil from erosion, protecting water from pollutants, and more. The RCRCD restores habitat in natural areas by re-establishing local native plant species for a variety of plant communities: riparian, scrubland, wetland, grassland, and oak woodland. Restoration efforts provide habitat for sensitive wildlife species including the California Gnatcatcher, Stephen’s Kangaroo Rat, Horned Lizard, Red-sided Garter Snake, Least Bell’s Vireo, Willow Flycatcher and other birds, mammals, and amphibians. Habitat for sensitive plant species and vegetation types is also conserved and restored.   

Management

The RCRCD maintains and monitors restored habitat areas for water quality, rare and threatened wildlife species, exotic weeds, trash, off-road vehicle (ORV) intrusion, noise, and other impacts. Staff at the RCRCD conduct ongoing monitoring to evaluate the condition and function of conservation lands. Methods include species surveys, detailed vegetation mapping, vegetation sampling using Relevé and point intercept methods, and California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) for wetlands. 

May contain: image of field technicians working on habitat restoration in a field outside of a park.
RCRCD staff working on a restoration project.

As part of ongoing stewardship, the RCRCD coordinates the cleanup of trash and debris; tests water quality; and monitors wildlife. Non-native aquatic species are removed from conservation easement waterways. Management includes blocking of illegal ORV routes and replanting disturbed soil with native vegetation. Occupation of preserve sites by homeless encampment has increased, mainly in riparian areas. Staff works with neighboring landowners, homeless resource groups, and law enforcement to deal with this complex and difficult issue.

Preservation

The District conserves land by accepting donations of land (deeds as fee-title, with appropriate endowments); conservation easements; and/or habitat mitigation funds. By 2019, RCRCD is managing more than 2,000 acres as either fee-title lands or conservation easements.

In the Temescal Valley, the District owns and manages 135-acre Dos Lagos Open Space area, 306-acres in Horsethief Canyon, 240-acres in Trilogy, 495-acres in McBride Canyon and over three linear miles of Temescal Creek that adjoins the Estelle Mountain Reserve and the Cleveland National Forest. The RCRCD works to restore the historically extensive, but diminished coastal sage scrub plant community to increase nesting sites for the California Coastal Gnatcatcher. The site includes habitat occupied by the Stephens Kangaroo Rat.

Image of land preserved by RCRCD - a forested valley and hills.
RCRCD preserved land. Photo By Erika Presley

RCRCD purchased 111-acres on the main stem of the Santa Ana River near Norco and Eastvale. Arundo donax has invaded the riparian habitat, and the invasive weeds are being removed to help restore the area to a plant community with native species.

Other RCRCD conservation easement areas are located in Springbrook Wash, Cajalco Wash and many of the Riverside Arroyos.

Agencies, individual landowners, and Homeowners Associations have provided conservation easements to RCRCD. Most of the acquired properties have required extensive restoration, including removal of exotic weeds and replanting of native species.

If you would like more information on how to donate natural lands to the RCRCD, please contact Shelli Lamb at (redacted).