Otay Preserves Its San Miguel Habitat Management Area

Photo of Mountain Bluebird.

Otay Preserves Its San Miguel Habitat Management Area

08:19 26 September in News

The San Miguel Habitat Management Area (HMA) is a 240-acre biological reserve owned and maintained by the Otay Water District. It is located within the City of Chula Vista and lies at the base of Mother Miguel and the San Miguel Mountains. It was established by the District in 1994 under a joint agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a mitigation bank to fulfill mitigation requirements established by the Endangered Species Act. It is used to mitigate the impacts associated with the construction and operations of the District’s facilities.

Photo of a burrowing owl at the San Miguel Habitat Management Area.

The HMA is comprised of high-quality habitats for sensitive plants and wildlife such as the burrowing owl.

The HMA includes high-quality habitats such as wetlands, coastal sage scrub, and native grasslands for the sensitive plants and wildlife that occupy the area. Over 250 different species of flora and fauna and over 25 special status species were detected on the HMA in 2022. Some of these species include Coastal California Gnatcatcher, Least Bell’s Vireo, Quino Checkerspot Butterfly, Burrowing Owl, Coastal Cactus Wren, Otay Tarplant, and Variegated Dudleya.

In 2023, the District was awarded a grant through the SANDAG TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program for Threat Reduction in the HMA. This Program has allocated $4 million annually to implement regional habitat management and monitoring efforts. These efforts help maintain the biological integrity of San Diego County.

The District has been using these funds to combat the increased threat of illegal trespassing. The HMA has experienced increased illegal entrance and the creation of trails, which has caused severe damage to native habitats and sensitive species. The District hopes to reduce the number of recreational trespassers (mountain bikers, hikers, dirt bikers, ATV riders) along the perimeter fencing as well as reduce the disturbance to habitats throughout the HMA.

Photo of a gate and no trespassing sign at the San Miguel Habitat Management Area.

Trespassing is strictly prohibited to protect the sensitive habitats and species at the HMA.

The HMA is private property and not open to the public. Trespassing is strictly prohibited by law California Penal Code Section 602(L) and U.S. CFR Title 42, Section 300i. Violations may result in arrests, fines, vehicle confiscation, and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

For more information about the HMA, please contact the District’s Environmental Compliance Specialist Juliana Luengas at (619) 670-2219.


San Diego Management and Monitoring Program
SANDAG – TransNet Land Management Grant Program
Burrowing Owl Habitats at the HMA and San Diego Zoo live webcam