Volcan Mountain Foundation

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San Diego County, California

Hubbell Gateway; photo by Vicki Bergstrom

Accomplishments and History of VMF

In 1987, 220 pristine acres of wildland habitat were threatened by a residential development on Volcan Mountain—one of the last privately-owned and relatively untouched areas of Southern California. The Volcan Mountain Foundation (VMF) was born in 1988 out of the quiet diplomacy of a group of concerned Julian citizens seeking a solution that would retain the land in its natural state while finding a way to equitably compensate willing sellers of land.

Through its first two decades, VMF developed conservancy partnerships and facilitated the establishment of San Diego County’s Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve and the addition for preservation of over 17,000 acres, bringing conserved land within the 52,000 acre range to approximately 31,000 acres. The foundation continues to work towards preservation of the entire 15-mile long Volcan Mountain range.

From 2009-2011, VMF acquired nearly 400 centrally-located acres on Volcan Mountain for conservation and to create a place to launch environmental education and habitat management programs.  VMF’s Education-Outreach program brings environmental stewardship into the classroom and students to the mountain to learn about the importance of open space habitat protection and connectivity, watershed protection, natural and human history, as well as hands-on restoration and stewardship projects. 

In 2020, VMF acquired 23 acres of unspoiled wildlands on the east side of the Volcan Mountains overlooking the San Felipe Valley.  The property straddles the divide between the San Luis Rey Watershed and the Salton Sea Basin.

In 2022, VMF acquired the 42-acre Copper Spur Ranch, preserving important oak woodland and riparian land at the headwaters of the San Dieguito Watershed.

VMF's Sky Island Interpretive Trail provides discovery opportunities in an ancient oak, pine and cedar grove and gives visitors an inspiring introduction to this natural wonderland, as well as breathtaking views from the peak of the trail where visitors can look through the Sky Island Pipe Scope to look back at coastal and inland community watersheds, and mountain peaks as faraway as Mexico.

The VMF's Volcan Mountain Nature Center, near the headwaters of Santa Ysabel Creek, is the focal point of VMF's Education-Outreach and Resource Management activities.  When visiting the Nature Center, the emphasis is on getting outside and discovering and exploring the unique natural resources that the Volcan Mountain range provides to the region of San Diego County and its residents and visitors