SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The first trail through the Ramona Grassland Preserve opened Friday, along with a parking area for cars and horse trailers.
The four-mile loop trail takes hikers through grassland, chaparral and oak woodlands to a pond and observation lookout with expansive views. The trailhead is along Highland Valley Road between Archie Moore Road and Highlander Drive, roughly southwest of the Ramona Airport.
County officials estimate that 90 percent of the grasslands in Southern California have been lost to development.
"The county and its partners have been working for years to acquire land in the preserve to conserve and restore this vanishing habitat," said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. "Today, the community can finally venture into the grasslands and experience what makes the area so special."
The preserve supports the endangered Stephens' kangaroo rat, San Diego fairy shrimp and arroyo toad, along with rare plants. Hawks, eagles and falcons spend their winters in the preserve.
The county has been working with The Nature Conservancy to protect and restore the 3,500-acre preserve since 2003. The effort was paid for by $10 million in federal grants, with $1.6 million kicked in by the county of San Diego.
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