chaparrallandexThe Chaparral Lands Conservancy was founded to fill several empty niches in the field of natural land management in California. The Conservancy is specifically focused on the special management needs of wildlife and plants dependent on California’s unique chaparral biome and interdependent ecosystems.

The Conservancy develops habitat restoration and enhancement projects to benefit the rarest of the rare habitats and species – endangered species in critical need of direct intervention to prevent extinction and assist with recovery. The Conservancy works to protect any rare shrubland region vegetation or critically endangered species in need of assistance irrespective of their charismatic appeal – Seemingly obscure and sometimes homely plants and animals are the glue that binds California’s web of life. The Conservancy is also dedicated to research to improve our knowledge of the conservation needs of target habitats and species and is committed to improving the public’s understanding of the incredible nature and diversity of life of shrublands in their own backyards.

Activities of The Chaparral Lands Conservancy fall into 5 basic categories:

The Conservancy is entirely focused on proactive habitat conservation activities and does not intervene in developments or other projects that would harm chaparral lands natural resources – Other groups like the Center for Biological Diversity and The California Chaparral Institute conduct worthy shrubland and endangered species advocacy activities.


The Conservancy intends to acquire the rights to manage shrubland wildlife, plants, endangered species and natural land areas as opportunities arise and funding permits. Rights to manage shrubland resources will be obtained through various means ranging from purchase or donation of fee simple ownership, the acquisition of conservation easements, establishment of management agreements with property owners, and others.


Planned vernal pool in Proctor Valley
This site on city of San Diego property was used for years as an off-road vehicle staging area and needs extensive vernal pool restoration work.

In an effort to restore functional ecosystems, the Conservancy has and will continue to plan and implement various projects to restore and enhance shrubland resources that have been degraded by land clearing or tilling, off-road vehicle activity, trash dumping, invasion of non-native and plants and animals, and other harmful activities and impacts. Planning and implementation of restoration and enhancement of shrubland resources has and will continue to take place as opportunities arise and funding permits.


Stewardship trash clean-up at the Carmel Mountain Preserve
Stewardship trash clean-up at the Carmel Mountain Preserve near Carmel Valley, San Diego County, CA

The Conservancy will conduct long-term stewardship activities to maintain existing and restored shrubland resources on properties under its rights to management. Stewardship is the long-term act of maintaining either existing or restored shrubland resource values and follows shorter-term and more intensive resource restoration and enhancement activities. For example, the Conservancy might conduct an intensive, short-term restoration and enhancement project on a property under its rights to management and involving the removal of fill from wetlands, reintroduction of endangered species, weeding, fencing, and signing. Once the project is complete, the Conservancy would then provide long-term stewardship of the area involving monitoring for successful establishment of the endangered species, supplemental weeding, replacement of damaged fencing or signs, and nature walks and other public education activities.


USD researchers at a vernal pool with fairy shrimp. Photo by Katie Davis.
University of San Diego researchers at a vernal pool with fairy shrimp. Photo by Katie Davis.

To further the understanding of necessary measures for conservation of shrubland resources, the Conservancy has and will continue to conduct scientific research on shrubland ecology, animals, and plants as a critical component of its habitat restoration, enhancement, and stewardship activities. For example, in one recent project the Conservancy contracted with the University of San Diego to conduct technical surveys for vernal pool fauna in general and the endangered San Diego fairy shrimp in particular prior to carrying out a restoration and enhancement project so as to identify specific measures to benefit the species as part of the project.


Chaparralian extraordinaire Richard Halsey leads village church kids on a Chaparral Lands Conservancy Nature Walk
Chaparralian extraordinaire Richard Halsey leads village church kids on a Chaparral Lands Conservancy Nature Walk

Conservancy project sites are often located in very close proximity to large suburban communities. We recognize that the success of any restoration and enhancement project is dependent in part on facilitating an understanding of the importance of the project and engagement in project activities by neighbors and the surrounding community at large. As such the Conservancy has and will continue to take steps to generate public interest and engagement in its conservation projects. For example, the Conservancy has collaborated with California Trout in a “Backyard Wilderness” program to lead public educational workshops and hands-on activities such as planting, trash pickup related to specific habitat restoration projects.

“To you who woo the natural beauty of our southland, who love to wander over mountain, hill, valley and desert, this little work, like the lens in the hand of the biologist – will give you the key to those exquisite lovelinesses which are only the attribute of tiny things. Southern California’s brush-clad hills become a mine of beauty, snowflakes under glass.”
George Clements, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, 1927;
in Forward to Francis M. Fultz’s The Elfin Forest