California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve - San Diego County

Special Restrictions: The reserve is only open for special events.

General Location: Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve is located in the eastern part of San Diego County between the towns of Jamul and Dulzura; follow eastbound Highway 94 (AKA Campo Road) from Spring Valley.

Maps: Directional map (PDF)    Topographical Map (PDF)

Directions: Directions from Downtown San Diego: follow Highway 94 east through the town of Jamul. Approximately two miles after passing the Jamul Fire Station is the entrance on the south/west side of Highway 94.

Purpose of Acquisition: The 5,600 acre reserve was acquired to preserve seven major vegetation communities: coastal sage scrub, transitional chaparral/coastal sage scrub, chaparral, grassland, oak woodland, riparian and freshwater marsh and associated wildlife. Some of the flora and fauna species observed on the reserve include: San Diego sunflower, Palmer's ericameria, northern harrier, white-tailed kite, San Diego black tailed jackrabbit, California gnatcatcher, California rufous-crowned sparrow, least Bell's vireo, orange-throated whiptail, San Diego horned lizard and Quino checkerspot butterfly.

Property History: 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. Prior to acquisition by CDFW, the property was used for farming and livestock grazing by the well-known Daley Family of San Diego.

The property was designated as an Ecological Reserve by the Fish and Game Commission in August of 2000

A variety of conservation biology research is conducted on the reserve in partnership with California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 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.

Additional historical information: For historical information, please visit the following links.

  • 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.
  • More information on the 2003 Southern California fires.

ST/WLB 8-2014