Volunteers clean up preserve

Volunteers at Carmel Mountain Preserve for the 25th annual I Love A Clean San Diego cleanup were kept plenty busy on Saturday.

A crowd of 80 people came to the cleanup site, organized by Qualcomm employees, and found a car hood, an old refrigerator, hardened bags of cement and creosote-laden telephone poles.

Some of the collected trash has been there for 30 to 40 years, said cleanup leader Anne Harvey - proved by a bounty of rusted cans of beer from a beer company that no longer exists and by the antique nature of the refrigerator.

“It’s really important to get the trash out of here so we can all enjoy the pristine environment,” San Diego City Park Ranger Gina Washington said.

The preserve is accessed off East Ocean Air Drive, adjacent to the soon-to-be-opened Ocean Air Park. Volunteers like the Florez family came from as far away as Murrieta to participate in the cleanup.

Clean-up group leaders Harvey, Dave Hogan and Dr. Oliver Ryder were all involved in saving the preserve years ago.

“It’s a miracle that this property was saved,” Hogan said, noting the planets must have aligned in the right way for environmentalists and developers to come to an agreement.

Ryder, of the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, said that the preserve in Carmel Valley’s backyard is an incredibly special piece of land.

Its high promontory with ocean views is something that in other communities might have become all hilltop homes. Instead the trail winds through heavy brush, giving hikers, runners and mountain bikers a quiet, peaceful trip with amazing views.

“It’s phenomenal what this community has done to ensure that centuries from now people will be able to see what the land looked like,” Ryder said.

On Saturday, volunteers arrived to see a brand new wooden post at the entrance to the preserve that reads: “Land set aside for habitat protection” with space to post maps and other information.

Rangers also built a new bridge across a small ravine at the preserve’s entrance. A trail runner on Saturday morning said a quick hello to Ranger Washington before flying right over the new bridge on his way up the hill.