Hours: The reserve is only open for special events.
Activities: wildlife viewing
PLEASE NOTE: For information on public use regulations for this area and other Department lands please refer to the CDFW Public Lands Regulations booklet. Scroll to the Table of Contents. Locate the page number for general regulations for public uses on all Department lands. For additional regulations that apply only to certain properties, check the Table of Contents for sections that refer to additional or property-specific regulations for wildlife areas or ecological reserves. All visitors are responsible for knowing and following the general and property-specific regulations.
Historically, Rancho Jamul has been used by the Kumayaay Indians for thousands of years for forage and living purposes, Spanish missionaries for grazing land (using the Kumeyaay Indians for labor), then owned by a series of private individuals, most notably Pio Pico, the last Mexican Governor of California.
For additional information on the early history of the area, please visit the following links:
Prior to acquisition by CDFW, the property was used for farming and livestock grazing by the well-known Daley Family of San Diego. The Department purchased the property in phases between 1998 and 2001 to conserve sensitive habitat and species in seven vegetation communities including chaparral, oak woodland, and freshwater marsh. The property was designated as an ecological reserve by the Fish and Game Commission in August of 2000.
In October/November of 2003, three of the worst fires in California history engulfed southern California. The Otay Fire burned approximately 80% of the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve. In 2007 the Harris Fire burned portions of Rancho Jamul.
It will take several years for the vegetation to regenerate. A restoration project over a portion of the reserve and nearby Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area was initiated in 2013 with funding from a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board, Resources Legacy Fund and the San Diego Public Utilities Department. Over a three year period, River Partners, with the help of The California Conservation Corps, will plant native trees and shrub species along Jamul and Dulzura creeks to restore riparian, oak woodland and upland habitats.
Restoration of the riparian areas of Jamul and Dulzura Creeks is the largest of the projects being pursued on the reserve through the mitigation bank established by Wildlands, Inc. This bank is providing up to 250 acres of created wetlands habitat and mitigation opportunity for wetlands lost elsewhere in this general vicinity.
Grassland restoration is proposed through controlled burning, exotic plant control, and seeding, with a one-acre pilot project started in the northern part of the reserve. Native grassland remnants will provide the seed source for further efforts. These efforts are expected to be extremely long-term because of difficulty in controlling non-native grasses.
Control of exotic plants is a major part of the conservation efforts on the reserve, as part of restoration as well as general efforts to remove noxious weeds and highly invasive species.
Augmentation projects are planned to expand existing oak woodland and riparian areas degraded by past ranching and farming on the property. Volunteers will assist with planting trees and removing fences to allow for greater wildlife movement. Water projects are planned to guard against extreme drought conditions and expand available habitat for species.
A variety of conservation biology research is conducted on the reserve in partnership with CDFW. Some of the partners include: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Geological Survey, University of California San Diego, San Diego State University, Conservation Biology Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and San Diego's Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. The Earth Discovery Institutes assists in outreach and educational services.
Monitoring of habitats and sensitive species is being done by Department biologists as well as several contract biologists. In addition, there are several graduate students working on projects, including habitat quality and species home range studies.
Many species are both sensitive and covered by the MSCP, and are monitored to observe overall area population trends.
Plants: coast live oak, Otay tarplant, San Diego thornmint, San Diego sunflower, Palmer’s ericameria
Butterflies: Quino checkerspot, Hermes copper
Raptors: northern harrier, peregrine falcon, prairie falcon, merlin, golden eagle, burrowing owl, white-tailed kite, and red-tailed hawk.
Other Birds: grasshopper sparrow, least Bell's vireo, California gnatcatchers, California rufous-crowned sparrow
Herpetofauna: coast horned lizard, orange-throated whiptail, western skink, western patch-nosed snake, two-striped gartersnake, red diamond rattlesnake and western spadefoot toad
Mammals: southern mule deer, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, San Diego black tailed jackrabbit, numerous small mammals, and 12 species of bats
Species Lists (PDF):