We are the San Diego Regional Group of the Power In Nature Coalition

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest state park, protects 600,000 acres of desert terrain. In an effort to reduce the number of in-holdings (privately owned land within the park), the Anza-Borrego Foundation is working to acquire land from willing sellers and donors. This land transfer effort works to make the Park ecologically whole and fully accessible to all. 

desert flowers anza borrego
Borrego Badlands
Anza-Borrego Desert Sunset

About This Project


Who is proposing this project?

Lead Organization: Anza-Borrego Foundation

Website: https://www.acresforanzaborrego.com/

Supporting organizations:

What is proposed?

Private property within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, known as inholdings, has been causing serious difficulties for park managers charged with protecting the Park. It has become difficult for park rangers – and visitors – to understand where public property ended. Additionally, this private land is rich in natural, scenic, paleontological, and geological resources, and includes important cultural sites and prime habitat for endangered plants and animals. In order to adequately preserve and protect the Park, these inholdings must be conserved and folded into the State Park’s public lands.

Since Anza-Borrego Foundation’s founding in 1967, they have conserved over 55,0000 acres of critical inholdings to protect resources and improve the management and operation of the Park. On August 10, 2021, Anza-Borrego Foundation successfully transferred 17,597 acres of formerly private inholdings to the State Park. The 331 parcels contained in this land transfer (covering 310 miles of land) represent the largest and most complex transaction ever between a non-profit state park partner and California State Parks.

Today, over 14,000 acres of critical inholdings remain scatted throughout the park. In order to preserve important cultural and natural landmark, as well as habitats for endangered species, the Foundation is working to secure land from willing sellers and donors for eventual transfer to the State Park.


 Project Location

Conserved land has ranged from the Riverside County line in the north to the Mexican border. This land includes properties in the iconic areas of the Park, including Borrego Palm Canyon, the Borrego Badlands, and Coyote Canyon.

Primary focus sites for future conservation include Northern Coyote Canyon, Clark Dry Lake, Glorietta Canyon, Kane Springs Road, Borrego Badlands, and Old Springs Corridor. Each area contains critical natural resources, cultural sites, and habitat for endangered species.

Why is this project on the 30×30 list?

This project works to preserve biodiversity through protecting critical habitats for species within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Iconic species contained within the park include the Peninsular desert bighorn sheep, desert fan palm oases, the endangered quino checkerspot butterfly, and stromatolites – the oldest living “fossils” on the planet. By purchasing privately-held land for inclusion in the State Park, the project helps preserve these and other species and their habitats, and supports the adaptation and mobility of species living in the Peninsular range.

Land preservation and transfer in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park also works to increase public access to significant sites and opportunities for outdoor recreation. For example, Clark Dry Lake, a land conservation focus area, has been used as a WWII bombing range, a homestead site for cattle ranchers, and a Cahuilla village. The Park is also home to Kumeyaay pictographs, some of which are estimated to be around 2000 years old.

The Park is also working to provide educational and recreational opportunities for people from underserved communities. For example, Camp Borrego, a three-day experience for 5th graders to learn about the park’s resources and opportunities for conservation, is building up to serve 5th graders from underserved communities in three counties.

Finally, preserving open space and protecting it from development is also a crucial part of working against climate change.


 How will this project be completed?

Anza-Borrego Foundation still has a long way to go to make the Park ecologically and geographically whole. Financial support from park supporters can help them finish the job to purchase the remaining critical inholdings.