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Wildlife Depend on Friends to Get Dates

Open space campaign aims to protect wildlife corridor

Escondido CA— While human singles seeking romance can turn to the Internet for help, our animal friends in the natural environment need lots of space to find mates. Otherwise, like royal families with too many cousins in the family tree, weak chins or worse happen to the resulting progeny.

The Friends of Hellhole Canyon have announced the launch of their capital campaign, raising funds to purchase roughly 400 acres of habitat next to the Hellhole Canyon Open Space Preserve. Their goal? Make sure wildlife has the room to roam and reproduce.

The Preserve, a nearly 2,000-acre park located on the east side of Valley Center, is a pristine chaparral ecosystem home to many endangered and threatened species. The park is owned and managed by San Diego County Parks and Recreation and welcomes hikers and equestrians to enjoy its trails.

More open space than park, the Preserve is part of a patchwork of large habitats that make up north county San Diego. Wildlife currently moves between tracts of land such as the Cleveland National Forest, Palomar Mountain, BLM land and the Rancho Guejito, a privately owned ranch that spans 23,000 acres east of Escondido. Hellhole Canyon is a centerpiece connecting them all.

Protecting The Wildlife Corridor

The 400 acres that the Friends aim to purchase are a key component for the connectivity of existing open spaces.

“Wildlife need bigger areas than what we have set aside for them,” says Board President Joaquin Aganza. “They can travel long distances to find food, water, and most importantly, mates. Often, this means they must cross roads, fences and other development to get to where they need to go, with often fatal results.”

As shown on a recent CBS 60 Minutes segment we can see the effects of genetic isolation playing out further north, where Los Angeles highways have forced mountain lions to inbreed in the Santa Monica Mountains. Isolation can devastate the genetic viability of a species and can lead to extinction.

The 400 acres driving the capital campaign lie between the Hellhole Canyon Preserve, BLM land and the Rancho Guejito, and creates a corridor for wildlife to travel without impediments.

Party For The Preserve

To initiate the campaign, the Friends of Hellhole Canyon are hosting an art auction and wine tasting at the stunning Melrose Ranch, a historic estate nestled in the hills above Escondido.

There will be a sumptuous gourmet buffet, live music, and a celebration of conservation. Best of all there will be the chance to acquire a significant piece of art for your collection and at the same time ensure that future generations will be able to access intact ecosystems populated with the wonderful creatures that share our beautiful Southern California landscape.

Important artists who have donated work include the locally revered Joe Garcia, an artist famous for his depictions of San Diego landscapes and wildlife; Stan Goudey, a  watercolorist and oil painter who captures the beauty of California, and Alex Long, a potter famed for his large raku-style of pottery.

The event will be held on November 6th, from 12-5 pm. To purchase your tickets (buy early, this will sell out) Tickets are $35 and should be purchased in advance at www.hellholecanyon.org/art
For more information contact:

Joaquin Aganza, President
(760) 533 6821

Adrienne Fuller, Marketing
(978) 852 4065

For Tickets:


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About the Friends of Hellhole Canyon:

Formed in 2000, The Friends is a group of volunteers who work to protect and steward critical habitat in the Valley Center/Pauma Valley area. We educate the public on the natural wonders that comprise the Preserve. We encourage the appreciation of the canyon by showing visitors how they can enjoy this chaparral treasure. We also work to acquire and conserve ecologically important open space, which enhances and expands the Preserve’s conservation footprint. We identify key parcels for acquisition based on proximity to the Preserve and ecological importance. Our goal is to continue to educate the public on this natural treasure and protect it for our recreation and the wildlife that live there for generations to come.