Friends Of Daley Ranch Board Meeting Minutes
November 13, 2003

President Sally Thomas opened the meeting at 7 p.m. in the Train Depot in Grape Day Park, Escondido. The minutes of Sept. 13 and Oct. 16 were approved without reading. Treasurer Irene O'Neill was absent.

Tony and Barbara reported on the recent fire that burned over 700 acres in Daley Ranch. It is hoped that gentle yet ample rains this winter will encourage speedy revegetation. It was noted that most of the burned area had suffered from a blaze over a decade ago and it had completely recovered in a relatively short time. Firefighters were praised for their effort in stopping the westward momentum of the fire through the ranch, and for saving all the structures there. No reseeding will be done, and invasive species will be monitored as growth occurs. The fresh growth may actually prove beneficial to wildlife, and this inspired discussion of the advantages of controlled burns. Tony said that the unburned portion of Daley Ranch will be especially valuable as a refuge for wildlife displaced by the fire.

Barbara said that the City Council is issuing a contract to complete the MHCP subarea plan, with hope that the federal government will provide matching funds. The City's portion would be provided by staff time. The City expects a two to three month period to rework the plan, with wildlife agencies to be consulted, then public hearings on the plan possibly by spring.

Regarding the Stanley Peak property, Barbara said that the City's property agent will be meeting with the new owner, Doug Sylvester, to determine his plans for the property. The state grant money for this land will be available for "a couple more years," allowing time for discussions with the owner. One possibility may be that significant portions of the property would be dedicated as permanent open space in return for development rights without spending any money. It was noted that the land is presently unincorporated, under County, not City, jurisdiction.

Barbara said that there is "no change" in the status of the Merkel biological survey of Daley Ranch. It needs some "fine tuning," especially in regards to the release of maps showing illegal trails. She noted that Biologist and FODR member James Dillane identified numerous additional plant species at Daley Ranch, following abundant rainfall last season, than had been reported in the survey after a dry year. Barbara also said that Merkel's draft management plan for Daley Ranch may need some adjustments following the fire.

Clay Phillips, City Manager, has directed staff to investigate the feasibility of renting the ranch house for weddings and other events. The idea would be to generate revenue for the City. Staff must consider logistical, structural and environmental issues, some of which would necessitate spending scarce funds from the City. Sally requested that FODR be involved in these discussions at the earliest possible time so that we may be proactive rather than reactive.

Barbara gave a status report on Daley Ranch as a conservation Mitigation Bank. Since 1997 the City has sold $670,000 worth of credits, and two more sales are pending which could bring the total to nearly $1 million. These sales have so far generated $69,000 for the Daley Ranch endowment fund, and $264,000 for the Daley Ranch restoration fund.

David Hogan spoke at length about regional habitat plans. He offered specific critiques of the South County plan, with several recommendations for the North County as well. David is extremely knowledgeable about the intricacies of these plans and the biological and technical aspects that must be addressed in them. Ongoing communication about the MSCP and MHCP among environmental groups including FODR is facilitated by the North County Open Space Coalition headed by Allison Rolfe. FODR plans to stay in touch with David and to lobby political entities who are involved with these plans. We seek the maximum possible long term, and financially secured, protection of wildlife habitat, with viable corridors and open space, free from edge effects, and ongoing management of these resources.

Rick Paul obtained maps and lists of property owners on the east side of Daley Ranch. We may use these to monitor development there and to facilitate communication and cooperation in minimizing impacts on Daley Ranch. Supervisor Pam Slater may be willing to help with these efforts.

Other FODR business issues were tabled until our next board meeting, scheduled for January 8 at 6 p.m. at Sally's house.

Respectfully submitted,
Rick Mercurio, Secretary