The first thing many visitors notice is just how quiet it is.

Located just off busy, traffic-laden Espola Road in Poway, the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve – a 700-acre oak-lined canyon flanked by coastal sage scrub and chaparral-covered hills – is only a very short distance from the hustle-and-bustle of daily life and the speeding cars on the roadway. But it seems a world away.

“In a very short time, the car engine noise disappears and the sound of birds – and lizards scuttling in the undergrowth – envelops you,” said Annie Ransom, an interpretive specialist at Blue Sky, home to a wide variety of flora, fauna and wildlife.

Slated for development in the 1980s, today’s reserve once was used as a vehicle thoroughfare to Ramona and as a dumping ground – but a group of concerned citizens worked to secure a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board, California Dept of Fish and Game to purchase 400-plus acres in 1989 to begin the reserve. The County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation and the City of Poway have purchased additional acreage over the years. Today, it is jointly managed by State Fish and Game, the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation, and the City of Poway, with the city’s Interpretive Services Division overseeing daily operations.

Blue Sky supports a number of sensitive species (such as delicate clarkias, orange-throated whiptails and coast horned lizards) in four distinct habitats – all in such close proximity to each other as to create unique biological diversity. The four habitats include coastal sage scrub, mixed chaparral, a riparian corridor, and oak woodlands. Animal inhabitants include mountain lions, deer, bobcats, quail, raptors, roadrunners, coyotes, squirrels, rabbits, bats, and many reptiles and amphibians.

“What makes it special is it is as diverse as our visitors,” Ransom said. “For some it’s a natural environment in which to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, a place to de-stress; for some it fulfills their love of nature and the outdoors; and, for others, it’s a safe area to hike or walk their dogs.”

The reserve’s trails are open to the public free of charge during daylight hours, according to Ransom – featuring brilliant colors of wild flowers on the hillsides in spring, singing birds, and a shady, tree-lined creek providing an inviting escape for a nature walk.

More information on the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, the trails, and a variety of programs and activities is available at www.poway.org or www.blueskyreserve.com.org.

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Friends of Blue Sky Canyon – a nonprofit public benefit corporation – was founded by an informal citizens’ group to preserve and protect Blue Sky.  The group promotes educational and interpretive activities at the reserve, providing funding for the purchase of items needed for docent and public education, such as binoculars, library books, videos, slide projectors, taxidermy display animals and science displays.  Volunteers are always encouraged to join by emailing contact@blueskyreserve.org.

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Location:  Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

Website:  www.poway.org

Address:  Entrance on Espola Road, about ¼-mile south of Old Coach Road/Bridlewood Road traffic light intersection.

Hours:  Daylight hours year-round

Contact Info:  858-668-4781, or email – blueskyreserve@poway.org

Tours & Activities:  A variety of docent-led hikes and other activities are available.  Visit www.poway.org or call 858-668-4781 for information.

Volunteer Opportunities:  Email contact@blueskyreserve.org for more information.

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