Backcountry Conservation & Achievements

2000 GPA 96-03: For the third time, SOFAR was victorious in its battle against the County for its inadequate planning for our almost 200,000 acres of precious backcountry rangelands and wildlands. We were extraordinarily pleased to have two Amicus (Friend of the Court) Briefs entered on behalf of SOFAR’s position. Attorney General Bill Lockyer entered for the State of California as one Amici and nine state and local organizations entered as party to the other Amici Brief in support of SOFAR’s lawsuit against the County.

2000 Alpine Albertson’s and Lakeside Ralph’s: SOFAR teamed up in two coalitions to oppose two chain-market retailers with plans to build large grocery complexes along rural portions of the I-8 corridor. Our coalitions successfully made fair arguments that the impacts from these projects should require a full EIR. In both cases, the proponents voluntarily decided to do full environmental analysis after the persistent efforts of the coalitions indicated firm resolve to challenge the projects.

1999 Policy I-78 Waiver for Valley Center: SOFAR opposed the County’s proposal that Valley Center be granted a blanket waiver of Policy I-78 that requires small waste-water treatment plants be located within one mile of the urban limit line. Due to questions raised by SOFAR about the growth-inducing and precedent-setting aspects of the proposed project, the waiver was dropped.

1998 Ramona Airport Expansion Appeal: SOFAR, along with Save Ramona and Ramonans for Sensible Growth, won a greatly changed plan when they appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to expand the Ramona Airport. The original proposal with its potential increase in traffic, infrastructure, and industrial uses had regional implications. The proposed Ramona Airport expansion would have served as the anchor for development along the Highway 67/78 corridor and opened up for development thousands of acres of backcountry from Santa Ysabel to Julian.

1997 Oaks at Descanso RV Park: SOFAR prevailed in a lawsuit against the County’s approval of this massive RV park at the entrance to Cuyamuca Rancho State Park and the Cleveland National Forest. The court ruled the EIR inadequate and set precedent that Major Use Permit findings had to be consistent with the General Plan policies and zoning. Eleven Planning and Sponsor Groups opposed the project.

1997 Mountain Lion Protection: SOFAR’s lawsuit stopped a residential development that would have severed the last mountain lion corridor connecting the Santa Rosa Mountain Range in Orange County and Palomar Mountain in San Diego County. This linkage provides the wildlife corridor that allows for great biodiversity of regional significance. This successful lawsuit, won at the appellate court, set a precedent in requiring a site-specific EIR to account for offsite issues such as a wildlife corridor. The Sierra Club joined us in this lawsuit.

1996 Turkey Release Halted: This release-for-hunting program, set up by the California Department of Fish & Game, lacked environmental documentation of the potential impacts on the Cleveland National Forest. This program was stopped through legal action by the California Native Plant Society, SOFAR, and the Sierra Club. This lawsuit won protection for our Forest from the unstudied impacts of the introduction of exotic species.

1995 Agricultural Preserve Lands: In a lawsuit won by SOFAR against the County, the court ruled the General Plan was missing a mandatory Agriculture Element, and that Land-Use Designator Ag 20, covering some 200,000 acres of private lands, was illegally zoned at 8-acre minimums. A moratorium was placed on the affected land until the County brought its General Plan into compliance with state law.

1993 Peninsular Mountain Range Symposium: Sponsored by SOFAR, this conference brought together eminent scientists to publicly discuss the geology, biology, history, and future on the Southern California mountain range.

1993 Forest Conservation Initiative: Drafted by SOFAR and approved by County voters, this initiative prevented small-lot subdivisions within the Cleveland National Forest. It established a 40-acre minimum parcel size that will protect the forest and wilderness.

1992 Central Mountain Community Plan: Successfully challenged by SOFAR in court, the Community Plan was invalidated by a judicial ruling supporting SOFAR’s claim that the provisions promoted development in the backcountry were not properly evaluated. The County was ordered to reevaluate the Plan and rewrite the Environmental Impact Report.

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