Endangered Species Habitat and a Family’s Legacy Conserved on Palomar Mountain

Mendenhall Ranch Conserved in Perpetuity


(SACRAMENTO) – October 7, 2020

Today, the California Rangeland Trust announced the permanent conservation of 117 acres of the Mendenhall Ranch on top of Palomar Mountain in San Diego, County. The conservation agreement, held by the Rangeland Trust, will prevent the sale of smaller parcels from the ranch and protect the grassy mountain meadow valley at the top of the Palomar Mountain.

Roots on the Mendenhall Ranch run deep, dating back to 1869 when Enos T. Mendenhall moved from Northern California down to San Diego County. Today, the land remains a striking resemblance to what it looked like a century ago, and because of this conservation agreement, the land will remain just as it is today, forever.

“The Mendenhalls are a prime example of how ranching traditions go hand in hand with land stewardship, thereby providing critical habitat for flora and fauna,” said Rangeland Trust CEO Michael Delbar. “The Rangeland Trust is proud to have partnered with them to help safeguard habitat for endangered species, protect the natural resource benefits of the landscape, and honor the Mendenhalls’ ranching legacy in Northern San Diego County.”

The Mendenhall Ranch demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between livestock grazing and the ecosystems sustained. The working cattle ranch contains unique high mountain grassland that provides critical habitat for the federally endangered Laguna Mountains skipper, a small, black and white checkered butterfly found only in high elevations in Southern California, as well as the San Bernardino bluegrass, a perennial grass that grows in high elevations. Key to the Laguna Mountains Skipper’s ability to thrive on the ranch is the presence of the Cleveland’s horkelia, which serves as the butterfly’s larval host plant. This conservation agreement ensures this habitat will remain protected from development and alteration forever.

Funding for the Mendenhall Ranch conservation project came from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance program and the Wildlife Conservation Board. 

“Through our Agricultural Land Easements, we are able to help farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS California’s State Conservationist. “This program protects grazing uses by conserving grassland and addressing resource concerns on the ranch.”

This recently conserved area joins an additional to 294 acres of conserved open space on the ranch that was previously conserved through a conservation easement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Wildlife Conservation board stated: “WCB is honored to partner with, and provide support to, the California Rangeland Trust for their acquisition of the Mendenhall Ranch Conservation Easement which complements an existing conservation easement held by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which serves to protect a working landscape, grasslands, wildlife habitat, cultural values, and watersheds in perpetuity for future generations.”

The conservation agreement on the Mendenhall Ranch protects significant environmental and agricultural resources maintained by managed cattle grazing and preserves the cultural heritage of a landscape that has been owned by the same ranching family for over 150 years. 

The California Rangeland Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was created to serve the land, people, and wildlife by conserving California’s working rangelands. To date, the Rangeland Trust has protected more than 342,000 acres of productive grazing lands across the state through the use of conservation easements. For more information, visit www.rangelandtrust.org.