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San Diego County, California

A Cause for Celebration: Grand Opening of the Santa Ysabel Nature Center

The Volcan Mountain Foundation community was well-represented at this past Saturday's long-awaited grand opening of the new Santa Ysabel Nature Center. It was a celebration of nature and of a shared dream for the backcountry!


In partnership with the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation, VMF, along with other environmental partners, helped welcome hundreds of visitors to celebrate the opening of the new 6,000 square foot facility.


County Board Chairwoman, Supervisor Dianne Jacob provided opening remarks during an opening ceremony that featured bird songs from the Ashaa Takook Native American bird singers. Other speakers included, Vice Chairwoman Bernice Paipa of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, Jason Hemmens, Acting Director of San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation, Ben Clay, Chair of the San Diego River Conservancy governing board, Dwight Worden of the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, and VMF Executive Director, Colleen Bradley.


In her opening remarks, VMF Executive Director, Colleen Bradley, applauded County Board Chairwoman, Supervisor Dianne Jacob for, "Her relentless pursuit of a visionary dream for a backcountry gateway nature center." Assisted by several kids invited up by Chairwoman Jacob, all the speakers shared the honor of cutting the ribbon and officially opening the center.


At the environmentally-friendly, LEED Gold-certified center, along with an information desk, restrooms, a water refilling station, and access to Wi-Fi, visitors will find an inviting exhibit space with hands-on and interactive touch-screen educational displays with information about local history, habitat and wildlife.


The center also features ranger offices, a large community room, and kitchen facilities. It earns a zero net energy rating with 90 rooftop solar panels.


In 2010, 84-acres of Engelmann oaks and grasslands along the foothills of the 15-mile long Volcan Mountain Range were donated to the County by The Nature Conservancy for a future nature center inside the 6, 437-acre Santa Ysabel Preserve. The center is mostly hidden from the main roadway, tucked behind large stands of the ancient Engelmann oaks.


The outdoor features of the center include nature play attractions, an amphitheater under the oaks, and 2 1/2 miles of trails.


With the opening of the center, VMF is looking forward to new collaborative opportunities with their long-time partners at the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation. Come often and explore!


For more information about events and activities, and exploring on and around the Volcan Mountains, visit the Volcan Mountain Foundation website at: www.VolcanMt.org


The Santa Ysabel Nature Center is located at: 22135 Highway 79, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070


Main Photo Credit: Jessica Geiszler

Supplemental Photos: Jeff Holt and Janice Smith


Additional Photos: