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

Harvest Hills Habitat Lands Acquisition

The Sierra Club North County Group and partners is working to stop development of Harvest Hills. Harvest Hills comprises 1,100 acres of land that provides crucial connective natural habitat to local plants and wildlife. While the area has been proposed for Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) protection, the land is currently threatened by development. The Sierra Club North County Group is working to acquire this land to protect its valuable habitats.

Harvest hills proposed layout

About This Project


Who is proposing this project?

Lead Organization: Sierra Club North County Group

Website: https://sierraclubncg.org/

Supporting organizations:


What is proposed?

Sierra Club North County Group and its partners are working to acquire land currently slated for the Harvest Hills housing development (formerly Safari Highlands Ranch) in order to maintain the land in its natural state.

The site’s 1,100 acres of habitat are designated for protection under both the adopted South County and the proposed North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP), a designation that preserves San Diego County’s native habitats. Despite the area’s importance to native species, Escondido is threatening to annex the land for development of “Harvest Hills.” This development would destroy environmentally sensitive and remote areas of the County important to wildlife and designated for Habitat Reserve.


 Project Location

Harvest Hills is located in Escondido, San Diego County, California. The project site is on 1,098 acres of vacant land east of Rancho San Pasqual, northeast of the Rancho Vistamonte Community and north of and adjacent to the San Diego Zoological Wildlife Alliance Safari Park in unincorporated San Diego County. 

Why is this project on the 30×30 list?

Preventing development of Harvest Hills will protect local species, boost climate resilience, and benefit the community of Escondido.

Harvest Hills is home to a wide variety of important species, including golden eagles, mountain lions, gnatcatchers and Englemann oaks. As an important connective habitat, virtually all of the 1,100 acres of the project are currently protected or in consideration for protection (included in the South County MSCP Pre-Approved Mitigation Area or in the proposed North County MSCP Priority Conservation Area). Development of this area would be devastating to local species, and will further encroach on and destroy important corridor areas. As such, wildlife agencies have raised significant objections to the project as have scientists from the Zoological Society.

Development of Harvest Hills would also increase fire danger and accelerate climate impacts. Preserving the site’s chaparral habitat boosts carbon sequestration and significantly reduces fire risks in the region, which faces extreme fire danger. The development project would require at least 67,000 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per day, which would release large amounts of avoidable carbon emissions. The Harvest Hills development would also increase traffic to the area and add thousands of cars on already congested roads, making fire evacuation in the region difficult for current and future residents. Purchase and protection of the property will avoid these climate impacts.

Protecting the site from development also benefits the wider community of Escondido. The site is rural and far from existing infrastructure, so annexation means Escondido must provide services to the area, draining funds away from urban core areas needing investment. According to city experts, the project is expected to cost the City over $800,000 a year in deficit, and does not help Escondido achieve affordable housing goals. While it’s currently unknown whether the public be able to use the area for outdoors recreation, potential public access to the area would be determined through a Resource Management Plan after protection is achieved.

 How will this project be completed?

Passage of the Harvest Hills development project would require the City of Escondido to annex the site, removing the land area from San Diego County. The city would have to vote to annex and approve the development project. The proposed Harvest Hills development project has failed to issue a Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in the past years.

To date, offers to purchase the property have not been successful. There are several land purchasing entities interested in helping the Sierra Club North County Group secure this property, although more funding may be required. A willing seller and continued opposition to the Harvest Hills development project will be most helpful in achieving protection of the area.