Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Acres for Anza-Borrego


Last updated 8/13/2021 at 1:40pm

They called it “A Really Big Deal,” and with more than 400 people registered for the Zoom event marking the transfer of 17,597 acres to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, it really was.

The event was hosted by the Anza-Borrego Foundation that has worked for nearly 30 years to purchase from willing sellers parcels of land located within the park.

The ABF is a cooperating association created to support the state park and efforts to acquire the land and officially transfer it to the park was finalized in June. These lands include historical, cultural, natural, and sensitive areas. This historical event has been 29 years in the making. The lands in this transaction represent over a quarter-century of dedicated planning and work. Some parcels in the transfer were purchased by the ABF as early as 1992, with the most recent acquired in 2016.

A total of 331 separate parcels transferred to the park help make the park whole and open areas to the public. Almost 10,000 acres of the transferred land are located within designated State Wilderness areas. Over 6,000 acres are in the pristine desert habitat of Coyote Canyon.

Additionally, the land acquired from private owners included 3,500 acres in the park’s badlands that are not only rich in paleontological resources but also protects the habitat of the Flat-Tail Horned lizard.

Other Parcels acquired will preserve wildflower fields, a hugely popular attraction as well as an essential part of the desert ecosystem.

This transfer also removes 310 miles of private property lines within the State Park and reduces park management costs. In addition, it provides connectivity and wildlife corridors between Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, as well as near the border with Mexico. It means more preservation of desert parkland, but also reduce park maintenance costs.

Parcels acquired by the ABF and transferred to the park ranged from the largest of 690 acres, to an old mining claim measuring three feet wide and 402 feet in length. Much of the land in the transfer preserves bighorn sheep habitat and provides connectivity to other protected lands, such as Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and federal lands managed by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Former Park Superintendent David VanCleve, now an ABF Board Member, served as master of ceremonies for the online celebration.

In addition to praising the land transfer, he pointed out that this also provides connectivity and wildlife corridors between Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, as well as near the border with Mexico.

At over 650,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the gem of California’s park system and represents over 40 percent of state park land.

The efforts of The Anza-Borrego Foundation will continue as there remains more than 14,000 acres of privately held land within the park boundary. Much of this land could never be developed, and as funds are raised, efforts are made to negotiate a purchase from owners.

Notable speakers at the event included Armando Quintero, Director of California State Parks and Ray Lennox, Park Superintendent. Board members, ABF staff and desert lovers joined the Zoom meeting from all over the country to celebrate this historic park land transfer, the largest in history.

Anza-Borrego Foundation (ABF) is the official nonprofit partner of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We provide financial support for Park programs, acquire land for conservation in and around the Park, educate the public about the Park’s resources and support research relevant to our region.

They still need your support, and still have a long way to go to make the Park ecologically and geographically whole. Over 14,000 acres of critical inholdings remain scattered throughout the Park. Six crucial areas in the Park contain significant concentrations of inholdings.

“We have not come this far without the generous help of park supporters like you. Help us finish the job. Your financial support will allow us to fulfill our long-standing dream of making the park whole. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park needs you! Please donate today,” ABF states on its website.