Butterfield Trails Ranch
Butterfield Trails Ranch (BTR) is a swath of land in Valley Center, California bordering Moosa Creek. This project seeks to turn Butterfield Trails Ranch into public parkland in order to help protect local wildlife and increase public enjoyment of the area’s beautiful rolling hills and mature oak groves.
About This Project
Who is proposing this project?
Lead Organization: The Friends of Hellhole Canyon
What is proposed?
The project aims to turn the currently privately-held Butterfield Trails Ranch into public parkland, an initiative that will enhance the natural ecosystem through restoration and increase public access to natural spaces. The Friends of Hellhole Canyon hopes to achieve this new parkland through San Diego County’s potential acquisition of the historic Butterfield Trails Ranch. The area is rich in wildlife and features gentle landscapes that allow for easy access by people of all ages and physical ability levels. By turning the nearly 60-acre “hidden gem” into parkland, the County would help protect the area’s natural and cultural sites from potential future development.
Butterfield Trails Ranch is located in Valley Center, California off of Valley Center Road at the end of Sunday Drive. The parcel borders Moosa Creek and is situated within walking distance of the Heritage Trail in Valley Center.
Why is this project on the 30×30 list?
Turning Butterfield Trails Ranch into public parkland would support the area’s biodiversity, increase community access to natural land, and bolster climate resilience.
The parcel is rich in wildlife, as is Moosa Creek, which serves as a natural wildlife corridor from its origin at the foot of Paradise Mountain by Hellhole Canyon to the San Luis Rey River at Bonsall. Despite the Ranch’s wealth of natural habitats, it is also situated between two large residential developments. Protecting the area as public parkland will ensure this crucial wildlife corridor stays undeveloped and important habitats are kept intact.
This project represents an opportunity to expand Valley Center’s access to outdoor recreational opportunities. Many community members support the park, as it is walking distance from high density residential areas and linked to the Heritage Trail. The area is also historically part of Luiseño tribal lands, and its acquisition as parkland is supported by tribal members.
Valley Center is a climate-vulnerable community, as it has historically been an agricultural area affected by water scarcity and wildfires. In its natural state, Butterfield Trails Ranch also works to support climate resiliency. As a natural oak woodland and riparian habitat, BTR offers carbon sequestration through its large mature trees. Its hydrology also supports the retention of ground water to avoid drought and flooding, as Moosa Creek is still a wild waterway without any concrete enclosures throughout its 17-mile length.
How will this project be completed?
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in support of a feasibility study performed by the San Diego County Parks and Recreation (SDCPR). However, while the County is in support of the park, it does not currently have funds allocated for a purchase.
The Friends of Hellhole Canyon is working to encourage the County to to fund purchase of this property. Thus, local community pressure is still needed to ensure the land becomes parkland and not development.