Mission: President Theodore Roosevelt and Congress established the Cleveland National Forest in 1906 to protect portions of the mountainous area of Southern California. Since that time, civilization rose around all sides of this wilderness province, and the original national forest boundaries diminished from two million acres to less than 650,000 acres. Few areas in North America display the concentration of species as diverse as those found in the Cleveland National Forest. The chaparral, meadows and pine-oak woodlands that grace the mountains and foothills are especially rich in unique species. One by one, unique wildlife and plants disappeared, including the California condor, grizzly bear, black bear, long-eared kit fox, and pronghorn antelope. Today, many of the remaining plants and animals of the Cleveland National Forest are threatened by urban development. Large areas of open land are critical for survival of many forest species, and continued development and subdivision in and around the forest continue to threaten their vitality. Additionally, the forest provides valuable services that are important for society’s well-being, including watershed and grazing areas, and two world-class observatories. Excessive development in this remarkable ecosystem continues to bring about the demise of foothill and mountain life as we know it. Improper land use and transportation planning are major threats to Southern California’s precious wilderness areas, and CNFF has come to realize that forest degradation and habitat loss are merely symptoms of greater regional planning issues. The Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF) is a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the plants, animals and other natural resources of Southern California mountains by protecting the land and water they need to survive. In addition, CNFF is committed to sustainable regional land use planning in order to stem the tide of urban encroachment of our wild-lands.
Programs: San Diego County is in the midst of updating its General Plan (General Plan Update or GPU), which is a long-term plan that will guide growth and development for all County lands. The current General Plan for the County has not been comprehensively updated for thirty years and the proposed GPU has been in the works for more than twelve years. Given the County’s history of taking many years to move its planning process forward, the adopted GPU could be in place for the foreseeable future.
CNFF intends to influence the GPU process by advocating that the County implement sustainable development practices. CNFF plans to retain a team of legal, planning and environmental experts to complete a detailed review and critique of the GPU and its environmental impact report. In addition, CNFF would use information complied during the critique process to initiate a comprehensive effort to educate and inform elected officials and the community about sustainable land use principles and practices.