In 2020, the California Rangeland Trust permanently conserved of 117 acres of the Mendenhall Ranch on top of Palomar Mountain in San Diego, County. The conservation agreement, held by the Rangeland Trust, prevents the sale of smaller parcels from the ranch and protect the grassy mountain meadow valley at the top of the Palomar Mountain.
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.