San Timoteo Canyon is a rural area straddling northwest Riverside and southwest San Bernardino counties near the communities of Beaumont, Calimesa, Moreno Valley, and Redlands. In 2001, RLC began working towards a regional open space conservation program in the canyon and has since conserved and transferred over 1,100 acres to various conservation organizations. RLC currently holds 4 properties totaling about 485 acres. As part of RLC’s conservation efforts in the Canyon we collaborate with Inland Empire Resource Conservation District, State Parks, the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority, and Redlands Conservancy. Open space in the canyon is being conserved primarily for habitat and passive recreation values.
RLC owns and manages the 358-acre Cienega Canyon Preserve, an area of diverse habitats and terrain located in the southeastern portion of San Timoteo Canyon. Habitats of the Preserve include riparian woodland along a perennial creek, coastal sage scrub and chaparral on the steep rugged hillsides, and oak woodland nestled the valleys. In the central portion of the Preserve lies a seasonally-flooded cienega that is fed by surface and subsurface springs. RLC engages the public and other partners in habitat restoration programs, outdoor recreation, and education activities on the Preserve.
RLC and the City of Riverside are working cooperatively to conserve open space in downtown Riverside through the Indian Hill Conservation Project. The objectives of the Project are to protect open space near the Santa Ana River and Trail and expand historic Fairmount Park.
Once complete, this crucial project will conserve nearly 8 acres within the City’s designated Mount Rubidoux Historic District and create opportunities for the community to enjoy greenspace in a rapidly-growing city center. Funding for the project is provided by RLC, the City of Riverside Regional Park Fund, and through a grant from The Wildlands Conservancy.
RLC plans and oversees the restoration of riparian and wetland habitat on several conserved sites in the Santa Ana River Watershed. Riparian areas provide important habitat for many animal species, including the Endangered Least Bell’s Vireo (LBV). Water quality in the Watershed also depends on healthy native vegetation, which slows floodwaters, helping to trap sediment and filter pollutants from the water.
To improve and restore riparian habitat, RLC removes invasive plant species, including Tamarix (salt cedar) and Arundo (giant reed), two plants which consume enormous amounts of water and provide little to no habitat value for native animals. Restoration areas are then replanted with native mule fat, cottonwood, and willow species that provide food and shelter for wildlife and associated water quality benefits.
Recently, volunteers helped RLC remove hundreds of invasive plants from riparian areas in the City of Riverside. To learn more about future volunteer stewardship projects visit our Get Involved page and signup for our Newsletter.
Did you know the Santa Ana River is Southern California’s longest waterway? Flowing for 100 miles through San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange Counties, the upper portions of the River through Riverside and San Bernardino remain uniquely un-
channelized. This rare, free-flowing aspect of the River provides critical riparian habitat for wildlife and a natural environment for people to enjoy as well.
Unfortunately, however, many areas of the Santa Ana River need help. As a result, the Santa Ana River Trust (SART) program was created under the fiscal sponsorship of RLC in 2011 as a voice to help re-establish the Santa Ana River as a vibrant community centerpiece.
The goals of the SART program are to inspire protection of the Santa Ana River by developing projects that increase usage of the Santa Ana River Trail, restore connecting green spaces, and engage citizens in active environmental stewardship. Since 2011, SART has conducted river and trail community surveys, organized regular volunteer cleanups, removed 26 tons of trash from the River and surrounding neighborhoods, installed interpretive signage, planted California natives, and created a free trail map.
Want to help us care for the River so that future generations have the same opportunities to explore its banks? Visit our Events Calendar for upcoming SART events and help with trash cleanup, graffiti removal, plantings, and more!
RLC launched its first official environmental education program called “Acorns to Oaks” in 2015. Acorns to Oaks guides underserved high school science students to restore native oak woodland in our Cienega Canyon Preserve through the combination of an in-class presentation and three unique field trips, provided at zero cost to participating students and minimal cost to school districts.
While exploring the beauty of the Preserve, the program brings textbook pages to life through lessons on oak woodland ecology, biodiversity, and environmental stewardship ethics. During the program students learn how to collect and germinate acorns, and grow and plant oak seedlings using real-world restoration techniques.
Acorns to Oaks provides an environmental science learning experience that engages local students over multiple months through a variety of hands-on activities, which result in meaningful conservation outcomes and inspire a deeply rooted sense of connection and pride for the outdoors.
RLC extends a huge “thank you” to our partners at the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District for assisting in the implementation of Acorns to Oaks and for providing mentors for the program.
RLC is excited about the interest in our growing efforts to connect the community with the land we conserve through community-based restoration efforts and outreach events. We believe community involvement is key to achieving long term conservation goals by encouraging awareness of our valuable open spaces and motivating positive action.
Community volunteers play a vital role in our restoration projects, whether it’s pulling weeds along riparian habitat at the Prenda Arroyo, spreading native grassland seed at the Cienega Canyon Preserve, or picking up litter from the peak of Mt. Rubidoux. Check out how you can become a volunteer by clicking here.
RLC also hosts and participates in a variety of events such as leading our very own annual Wildflower Walk among the hills of Riverside, conducting a nature scavenger hunt as part of the California Council of Land Trusts annual Take it Outside California! Event, or participating in a multitude of community Earth Day events.
Make sure to check our upcoming events calendar, and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter for the latest scoop on outreach opportunities!