SDG&E and forest service preserve Sweetwater River watershed pro - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

SDG&E and forest service preserve Sweetwater River watershed property

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego Gas & Electric announced Wednesday that it has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to preserve a 66-acre parcel in the Cleveland National Forest as part of a deal to protect land following completion of the Sunrise Powerlink Project.

The parcel known as Descanso Junction includes part of the upper Sweetwater River watershed, the largest of three local watersheds. It borders a one-mile stretch of Highway 79 on the western slope of Guatay Mountain.

It is among more than a dozen properties that SDG&E is preserving to offset impacts on scenic quality, sensitive vegetation and wildlife from the company's Sunrise Powerlink Project, which was completed in 2012.

SDG&E will eventually preserve more than 11,000 acres of land as set forth by the approved Sunrise Powerlink Habitat Acquisition Plan and Habitat Management Plan.

"We are excited to work with the U.S. Forest Service to protect land that helps preserve one of San Diego's critical watershed ecosystems," said J. Chris Baker, SDG&E's senior vice president of strategic planning and technology. "The addition of Descanso Junction is a vital part of our land conservation efforts that will forever preserve more than 11,000 acres of critical ecosystems throughout San Diego and Imperial County."

The acquisition of the Descanso Junction property also preserves and protects a stand of rare Engelmann oaks, which grow in the mountain foothills of Southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico, and are one of the rarest tree-oak species in the United States.

"The addition of the Descanso Junction parcel helps maintain open space and visual qualities on the Cleveland National Forest," said Cleveland National Forest Supervisor William Metz. "SDG&E worked closely with us to acquire this parcel as public land for the benefit of future generations."

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