By Associated Press - Sunday, March 21, 2021

SAN DIEGO (AP) - San Diego County will purchase 2,151 acres (about 9 square kilometers) of land in Campo in junction with the U.S. Navy to expand its conservation land, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sunday.

The property contains a combination of chaparral, wetlands and stream-side habitat that support endangered species, including the arroyo toad and least Bell’s vireo, a rare songbird, the newspaper reported.

The county Board of Supervisors unanimously voted 5-0 to purchase the land on Tuesday.

County staff said purchasing the property will help officials link nearby reserves and wildlife corridors.

“The park is extremely important biologically not only for its onsite resources, which include over 100 acres of wetlands, which is really quite amazing, but also in terms of regional connectivity,” said Dan Silver, executive director of the Endangered Habitats League. “It’s part of what is called the Lost Californias linkage between us and Mexico. So it is, you might say, an internationally important property from that perspective.”

The U.S. Navy intends to use the purchase to offset the environmental impact of its training program.

The Star Ranch conservation area will create a buffer for the Naval Base Coronado’s Camp Michael Monsoor, which conducts exercises in special warfare training.

The cost for the project will be about $8.8 million, including $7.7 million to purchase the land and more than $1 million in initial expenses. The Navy will contribute about $1.3 million through a grant.

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