Anza-Borrego Foundation Acquires Additional Land
Last updated 1/10/2022 at 10:18am
Bri Fordem dreams of the day when Anza-Borrego Desert State Park becomes whole.
With the help of a dedicated staff and an active Board of Directors, she is also working to see that dream come true through the recent acquisition of 25 acres that will become parkland.
Fordem is the Executive Director of Anza-Borrego Foundation, a conservation organization that has worked for more than a half century to acquire private parcels of land that lie within the boundaries of California's largest state park.
As the official cooperative association supporting the park, ABF has acquired over 55,000 acres from willing sellers, leaving an additional 14,000 acres of private inholdings still scattered throughout the park.
Some of this land was critical to allow public access to some of the most significant areas of the park.
The most recent acquisition consists of four parcels, one 10-acre and three 5-acres, located in a very remote part of the San Ysidro Mountains, west of Borrego Springs. This wilderness encompasses Palm Mesa Peak at an elevation of 4,438 feet, adjacent to Henderson Canyon. The area is only accessible by foot.
Anza-Borrego Foundation Land Program Manager Julie Gerson knows every parcel of land within the park and works with owners who might be interested in selling.
Most of the parcels have no available services or road access, but some are critically located in areas that provide access to important recreation areas or sensitive archeological, paleontological, plant or wildlife areas that could be destroyed if the land were developed or fenced off, blocking access to other park areas.
Many of the private parcels acquired by ABF encompass critical archeological sites, endangered species habitats or access to such areas. Acquiring the land for the park ensures that it can be managed as parkland.
"Many of the parcels have been in families for years and owners just don't realize that they could never be developed," Gerson said.
Often, owners have no idea where the land is located, or may believe that there is road access.
"When I first spoke to the seller, several years ago, she was adamant that her property had road access because the deed gave the location as Coyote Canyon Jeep Trail, along with the legal location description," Gerson said. "There may have been a trail many years ago and that was a selling point to unsuspecting buyers. The records went back to 1928 when it was sold for ten dollars in gold coins. It changed hands several times over the years, but I wonder if anyone ever actually tried to visit the property?"
The latest parcels in the San Ysidro Mountains are important bighorn sheep habitat as well as home to native palm groves.
These native palms provide habitat from many species of birds, bats, rodents, mammals, and reptiles.
Once ABF reaches out to landowners, and they express interest in selling, appraisals are done to determine a fair market value.
Through member donations, grants and fundraising efforts, the foundation proceeds with land purchases and then transfers properties to the state park.
Fordem urged anyone who supports the park and wants to see the area preserved and protected to donate to ABF.
"We have not come this far without the generous help of park supporters. Help us finish the job. Your financial support will allow us to fulfill our long-standing dream of making the park whole," Fordem said.
More information about Anza-Borrego Foundation can be found at http://www.theabf.org.