California’s Natural Community Conservation Planning Act has fostered the development
of regional preserve systems with the aim of maintaining natural ecosystems while
balancing growth. In the city and county of San Diego, this preserve system has
become known as the Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) and Multiple Habitat
Conservation Plan (MHCP), respectively. Today monitoring is the weakest part of
the MSCP; it is presumed that each agency will perform its own monitoring, but there
are few funds to pay for it and a lack of personnel with the appropriate training.
The SDTT’s network of Preserve and Land Trust-based volunteers are trained to do
wildlife monitoring and have become a valuable resource for MSCP/MHCP monitoring.
Although volunteer groups cannot completely meet all monitoring needs, they do provide
a cost effective alternative to consultants, increase the likelihood that monitoring
will actually be performed in the long term, increase public awareness, and foster
an attitude of stewardship for our open spaces.