Supervisors approve San Luis Rey River Park grant application

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution approving a $350,000 grant application to acquire 23.7 acres of additional open space within the San Luis Rey River Park.

The supervisors’ 5-0 vote Dec. 5 authorizes county Department of Parks and Recreation director Brian Albright or his designee to conduct all negotiations and execute any agreements for an Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program grant. The supervisors’ action also finds that no new circumstances would require an update to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report for the San Luis Rey River Park master plan which was originally adopted in 2008 and last amended in August 2011.

“We’re excited and hopeful that that will actually result in a grant,” Albright said. “It will be a great thing for the community.”

In 1989, the state legislature established the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program which provides up to $10 million of grants annually to governmental agencies or non-profit organizations for projects which mitigate the environmental impacts of new or modified transportation facilities. The program is administered by the state’s Natural Resources Agency, which announced the release of guidelines and applications in October 2012.

Projects eligible for Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program funding include acquisition or enhancement of resource lands which mitigate the loss of resource lands within or near right-of-way acquired for transportation improvements. The widening of State Route 76 qualifies the San Luis Rey River Park for the grants.

“I’m a big supporter of the San Luis Rey River Park,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “I am excited about the possibilities.”

A 23.7-acre parcel of open space is available for an estimated acquisition cost of $856,275. If the county receives the grant it would also use existing Multiple Species Conservation Program funding to purchase that parcel. A fair market value appraisal of the parcel will be conducted before any recommendation to acquire the property is brought to the Board of Supervisors.

The exact boundaries of the future San Luis Rey River Park are undetermined as land will be purchased only from willing sellers, but the park will stretch for approximately nine miles and will consist of approximately 1,600 acres. The county has already acquired more than 500 acres.

“This would greatly expand that,” Albright said.

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