Volcan Mountain is located at the eastern
end of the San Dieguito River Park. It is the location of fern-filled
Ironside Spring, the headwaters of the San Dieguito River. As recently as the 1990's it was primarily under one private ownership known as Rutherford Ranch. The
ranch rolled across the crest of the Volcan Mountains and reached
into the desert at San Felipe Valley, it linking the San Dieguito
River Park on the west with the Anza Borrego State Park on the
east, thus providing a natural corridor from the desert to the
Thousands of years ago, Native Americans crossed the Volcan
Mountains on their journeys between the desert and the sea.
Settlers from the east built their homesteads on ranch territory.
records indicate the earliest known cabins were built in the
mid-1860s. Although the ranch supported vineyards, orchards and
crops, it was primarily used for grazing cattle and sheep.
Human activity has been limited, leaving the ranch relatively undisturbed.
Six sensitive habitats, 22 sensitive plant species and 39
sensitive or locally rare animal species occur within the
area. Mountain lions, bobcats, mule deer, coyotes and grey
are common in this wild country. Bald eagles and golden eagles
breed on the mountain.
In the mid-1990s, the owner entered into an agreement with The Trust for Public
Land, a non-profit land conservancy. The Trust for Public Land
the bank note owed by the property owner, and received an option on a large piece of the property. The
Trust for Public Land worked with the San Dieguito
River Park, the County of San Diego, the California Department of Fish & Game, and the private 501(c)(3) organizations, the Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, to assist those agencies in finding the funding
to gradually acquire the property. In the last decade, approximately 9,000 acres of the former Rutherford Ranch on Volcan Mountain have been brought into public ownership. In 2007 The Nature Conservancy began negotiations to acquire most of the remaining 1,800 acres. The purchase agreement, signed by all parties in 2008, provides for a three phase acquisition. The first phase of 275 acres will be completed before the end of 2008.
The County of San Diego and the Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation lead organized tours to the summit of Volcan Mountain. Check the Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation's website for more information.
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