The Environmental Mitigation Program (EMP) provides funds through TransNet
to protect, preserve, and restore native habitats as offsets to disturbance caused by the construction of regional and local transportation projects.
The $850-million program began purchasing property in 2008 and has now acquired
more than 3,300 acres around the region at a cost of $99.3 million.
The TransNet EMP goes beyond traditional mitigation programs, buying large parcels of land early at lower prices to comprehensively satisfy the mitigation requirements of current and future projects. Purchase of mitigation lands in advance of need will result in cost savings. In addition to the early acquisition of land, the EMP will provide funds for regional management and monitoring to maintain the biological value of conserved habitat lands.
July 2012 Acquisition: Hidden Valley, Jamul
With the assistance of The Nature Conservancy, SANDAG and the U.S. Department of the Interior purchased a 1,905-acre property in East San Diego County for open space preservation and the protection of endangered and threatened species, including the Quino checkerspot butterfly and California gnatcatcher. This land is now part of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, an 11,000-acre-plus block of habitat long recognized for its rich and unique biodiversity. The Hidden Valley site fills in the missing links between the National Wildlife Refuge managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve managed by the California Department of Fish and Game.
Through the TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program, SANDAG contributed $10 million toward the $18 million purchase price for the property and covered the cost for 953 acres of the 1,905-acre site. The Department of the Interior, with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, paid the balance. The Nature Conservancy negotiated the reduced “bargain sale” purchase price, which was $2 million lower than the market value estimate of $20 million as determined in an appraisal obtained by the Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Situated on the northeast flank of Mount San Miguel, the Hidden Valley property is at the heart of the Otay-Sweetwater Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, considered the largest block of intact habitat in coastal San Diego County. The land combines with thousands of acres of open space nearby to create continuous wildlife corridors critical to the survival of endangered and threatened species.
The Hidden Valley acquisition helps SANDAG and Caltrans meet environmental mitigation requirements for scores of regional transportation improvements planned countywide, including: SR 54/SR 125 between I-5 and SR 94; SR 94/SR 125 between I-5 and I-8; I-5 between SR 905 and SR 54; I-8 between SR 125 and Los Coches Road; I-15 between SR 94 and SR 163; I-15/SR 94 HOV connectors; SR 52 between I-5 and I-805; SR 94 between Avocado Boulevard and Steele Canyon Road; SR 125 between SR 905 and San Miguel Road; as well as small regional projects and local roads and streets. View property photo album