Friends of Daley Ranch Annual Retreat Minutes

January 12, 2019


Present: Colleen Mackinnon, Jerry Harmon, Rick Paul, Fred Woods, Dick Althouse, Liz Ridder and Rick Mercurio.

   Colleen opened the meeting at 10 a.m. at the Oceanside home of Jerry Harmon.


Annual Budget: The Board discussed in detail each item in the draft document prepared by Rick Paul. He will compile the agreed-to changes and produce a final budget document for the Board. The following are some highlights from the discussion:

A.    School Trips: This is generally a rollover item with bus costs the largest share with 30 buses scheduled for the ten trips. The total from FODR will be over $18,000. Colleen shared some responses from both student and teacher surveys from last year, which she will send to us. The Board appreciates these surveys and wants them to continue this year. Liz said she would try to recruit student volunteers to help with the visits. She also suggested a hands-on activity, measuring the circumference of trees to determine their carbon content. Rick P said he could possibly supply pi tapes for this purpose.

B.     Building Restoration: Although Dick has completed the work on the four utility buildings, he now is setting his focus on the historic barn. The Board and City leaders agree that this should be a priority. Dick said he is willing to look into what it would take to strengthen the structure, and to possibly serve as foreman of the project. He mentioned that the area around the barn must be cleared.

C.     Signage: Colleen wants to proceed with the plant sign project as soon as possible. To that end, she announced a separate meeting to discuss the plant signs on January 23, 7 p.m. at the Train Depot. Others planning to attend include Dick, Fred, Liz, and Jerry. The Board allocated $600 for these signs.

D.    Newsletter: The Board will continue its quarterly schedule, and upcoming costs were calculated with the higher postage rates.

E.     Second Sundays: The Board determined that we do not need to supply items for these events, so no funds were allocated. We will be asking the City to fund regular shuttle service on all Sundays. FODR also hopes to obtain grant funds from the Escondido Charitable Foundation for a single year of weekly Sunday shuttles. We are thankful to Don Piller and Bruce Swanson for volunteering to help with Second Sundays.

F.     Annual Picnic: To schedule a date that does not interfere with Veterans Day weekend, the Board moved the date for 2019 to the first Sunday of November, the third, with hopes that the City would open the Ranch House. Most costs will roll over, though Colleen wants to make sure she had an adequate budget for “advertising.” The Board would like to make sure that formal invitations are sent to City officials as well as sister organizations, such as TECC, the History Center, Audubon, Hell Hole Canyon, etc.

G.    Interpretive Displays: The Board is grateful to Dick for continuing his quest for historic farm equipment and artifacts. Along with these, the Board is hoping to install informational signage to educate the public about the equipment and the utility buildings. In addition, the Board would like to pursue the acquisition of movable displays that showcase the flora, fauna, geology, history, and Native American culture. Such display cases could possibly be for public viewing in the Ranch House, yet able to be moved to bedrooms or the garage when the House is used for other purposes.

H.    Habitat Preservation: The Board is grateful to the City for its 2018 efforts at surveying the effects of the Gold Spotted Oak Borer, and for spraying to control the pest. FODR hopes the city will maintain an ongoing GSOB control program using funds from the Daley Ranch mitigation credit account. FODR will continue to help the City address this issue. The Board would love for Jim Schafer to again lead this effort.


Strategic Planning: Newly elected Mayor Paul McNamara, new Council member Consuelo Martinez, and Jay Petrek met with Rick P, Fred, Dick and Rick M on January 10 at City Hall. The Mayor asked FODR to work together with City Staff on all decisions regarding Daley Ranch, welcoming our input. He also asked FODR to compile a list of items that we hope to accomplish so that the City may consider them. To that end, the Board developed a Strategic Plan:


1.     ONGOING BIOLOGICAL MONITORING. The Board believes that the DR Master Plan calls for regular biological monitoring of the Conservation Mitigation Bank by professionals. Such monitoring would include surveys of native habitat, wildlife, native species, invasive species, human impacts, wildlife corridors, and possible edge effects from existing or proposed human activity. One such survey, the Merkel Report, is now several years old, and could serve as a baseline and comparison for ongoing biological studies. Actionable information may be obtained by this monitoring, in such areas as GSOB control, invasive species removal, closure of illegal trails, and habitat restoration. Funding for biological monitoring, the Board believes, is mandated by the Wildlife Agencies and is to be funded from Mitigation Bank credit sales.

2.     BARN REHABILITATION. The redwood barn just north and west of the Ranch House is the oldest structure still standing on Daley Ranch. It has important historical significance, in-situ, as an integral part of the working ranch that once existed. Yet its condition continues to deteriorate, and its structural integrity is threatened. The Board asks the City to authorize a rehabilitation plan for the barn, strengthening its internal support while preserving its exterior appearance. Board Member Dick Althouse, with his experience and construction skills, and as a former member of the Escondido Historical Preservation Commission, has the knowledge and passion to lead this program as a volunteer foreman. Ultimately the Board hopes that a strengthened barn would be accessible to the public, holding historic farm equipment, and featuring informational signage to educate visitors.

3.     RANCH HOUSE AS INTERPRETIVE CENTER. The Board would like the City to designate the Ranch House as a permanent interpretive center. FODR could potentially pay for interpretive displays featuring information on Daley Ranch’s flora, fauna, history, geology, and Native American traditions. These display cases would be moveable from what would become their normal location in the Ranch House’s Great Room. In other words, the Ranch House venue could also be used for meetings, events and other activities by simply rolling the display cases to temporary storage in the bedrooms or in the garage storage facility nearby.

4.     SHUTTLE SERVICE. At one time the City provided free shuttle service every Sunday from the La Honda parking lot to the Ranch House. This service was terminated several years ago. The Board believes that the City should again provide this service, using wheelchair accessible vehicles, in order to allow segments of the population who otherwise would not be able to see Daley Ranch to do so. Such users include the disabled, the elderly and families with very young children. Shuttle service would bolster the City’s compliance with ADA, and would facilitate better public access to the Ranch House and all its surrounding amenities.

5.     RECREATIONAL RESOURCES IN AREA ONE. The Daley Ranch Master Plan created Area One, a relatively small number of acres near the Ranch House, for potential active recreational purposes. FODR, together with the Escondido Creek Conservancy, are currently exploring additional features that would bring more users to this area for activities, for example building an interpretive trail. We would ask that the City work together with us on this vision as it unfolds, and help cut through “red tape” whenever possible.

6.     LAND ACQUISITION. The Board urges the City to pursue acquisition of the following parcels to enhance the Daley Ranch Conservation Mitigation Bank:                       

A.    The BLM property that is landlocked within Daley Ranch, for little or no cost to taxpayers.

B.     The BLM properties that are adjacent to Daley Ranch on the east side, for little or no cost.

C.     The De La Fuente property landlocked within Daley Ranch; the owner has expressed his desire to use this land for mitigation purposes.

D.    The five-acre parcel just west of the La Honda parking lot; this land could be used for additional parking, and/or for a visitor center or other active recreational uses. The owner is a willing seller.


Other Business at the Meeting:


Prop 68. Liz said that voter approved Proposition 68 includes provisions for visitor centers and other uses that FODR might be eligible for. She agreed to look into this, with the first deadline for submission in February.


Election of FODR Officers: Rick M moved to approve the following slate for 2019: President, Colleen Mackinnon; Treasurer, Rick Paul; Secretary, Rick Mercurio. Rick P. seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


Taxes: Rick P said that the tax work and filings for state and federal governments will be due soon. The Board expressed its appreciation to Rick P for his hard work and professionalism in handling this work, along with his treasurer’s reports and budget work.


CRM: Colleen expressed her desire to obtain Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to help FODR with organization. This system was described as combining elements of an Excel spreadsheet with Word capabilities. It would be free, but would require training by the Board, which approved this idea for Colleen to pursue.


Social Event to Thank TECC: Rick M shared good news that one of FODR’s members is ready to make a substantial donation to FODR toward the acquisition of open spaces near and around Daley Ranch. FODR will issue a check to TECC combining this with other recent donations, for the Save1000Acres campaign. A local Girl Scout troop may also be willing to donate funds in the names of the 10 girls. Jerry suggested that FODR host a social event to thank the donors, including the scouts, and to present the donation to the TECC Board members. The Board agreed, and Jerry will look into a date and location for this.


Newsletter: Liz agreed to write an article and hopefully furnish photos about her placement of 14 wildlife cameras in and around Daley Ranch. This will complete the content for the winter newsletter.


Next Meeting: The next regularly scheduled Board meeting will be Wednesday, February 20 at 7 p.m. at the Train Depot in Grape Day Park, Escondido.

A committee meeting to plan for the plant signs project is set for Wednesday, January 23 at 7 p.m. at the Train Depot.


Respectfully submitted,

Rick Mercurio, Secretary