Friends of Del Mar Mesa energizes as nonprofit status is official

By Suzanne Evans

Its 501 (c) nonprofit status confirmed by the IRS, Friends of Del Mar Mesa met at the March 14 Del Mesa Community Planning Board meeting to activate the group’s plans to heighten protection of the preserve.

Friends’ treasurer and organizer, Del Mar Mesa board member Preston Drake, said the group has received its first donation and hopes initially to raise $50,000.

Hawks soar above the preserve’s emerald chaparral and curving trails in the newly formed Friends’ logo, highlighting the environmental beauty and legacy the group seeks to protect. The logo was designed by one of the group’s directors, artist and digital photographer Angelika Drake.

The mission of the Friends of Del Mar Mesa is “to protect and preserve the habitat, ecosystems, and recreational aspects of the Del Mar Mesa through habitat restoration and enhancement, recreational support, stewardship, research, and education. We support educational and recreational activities that foster an appreciation of the natural environment of Del Mar Mesa.”

Mesa planning group chair Gary Levitt said there will also be a protection plan for vernal pools.

Vernal pools, with fresh supplies of rainfall, sparkle in the spring and are home to two endangered fairy shrimp species and several plant species, proposed for federal or state protection.

Prime projects include trail upkeep, signage, fencing, and eradication of invasive plants such as non-native Pampas Grass that crowds out native plants and trees that provide shelter and food for native wildlife. The group will also meet with park rangers to identify future projects for grant applications, contact press, activate a membership drive, and advertise on the Web.

Del Mar Mesa board members unanimously elected Friends of Del Mar Mesa Preserve directors and officers at their Nov. 8 meeting. Directors elected for two-year terms include Angelika Drake, Preston Drake, Gary Levitt, Ken London, Paul Metcalf, Trey Nolan, Bill Woolson, and Lisa Ross.

Friends of Del Mar Mesa Preserve officers elected for one-year terms are Lisa Ross, president; Ken London, secretary; and Preston Drake, treasurer.

Among tasks Friends will undertake are trails enhancement, fencing materials upgrades, and natural habitat restoration. Also included in the mission is “the whole mesa, not just the preserve,” Levitt said.

Friends of Del Mar Mesa will formally launch in June. Its website has been secured at