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La Mesa estate funds upkeep on Volcan Mountain

The Volcan Mountain Foundation received a gift of the 684-acre Peckham Keenan Wildlife Sanctuary from the estate of Ann Peckham Kennan.

The late Keenan, of La Mesa, purchased the property with her late husband, Tom Keenan, in the 1990s.

In 2018 Keenan acted to place a permanent conservation easement to prohibit hunting and trapping on the property, which supports grasslands, chaparral, oak and conifer forests, and numerous springs, creeks and seasonal ponds. Humane Society Wildlife Trust owns and monitors the conservation easement.

Finalized in November, the gift includes funding the management of the acreage on the eastern slope of Volcan Mountain near Borrego and Warner Springs. This property joins other public lands on Volcan Mountain, creating a substantial network of connected open space with varied animal habitats supporting a network of wildlife corridors

“This gift comes from more than a decade of relationship and trust building between Ann and Volcan Mountain Foundation,” said President and Executive Director Eric Jones in a press release. “She chose Volcan Mountain Foundation to continue stewarding the place she loved, for all time.”

Wildlife surveys have tallied more than 100 bird species on the property, including the federally endangered Least Bell’s Vireo and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. The land is home to mountain lions, bobcats, southern mule deer, badgers, gray foxes, coyotes, striped skunks, granite spiny lizards and Pacific tree frogs.

Foundation board chair Jay Evarts recalled Keenan’s volunteer work at the Borrego State Park Visitor Center and her determination to create a nearby wildlife sanctuary.

“During the several years that I got to know Ann, I was so impressed by her ability to enjoy life to the fullest and her passion for all wildlife—both flora and fauna,” Evarts said. “Right up until her passing earlier this year, she was still hiking, practicing yoga and taekwondo and gardening.”

In 2018, Keenan told the San Diego Union Tribune, “What you see going on all over the world, the human population is just devastating the planet and everything else that lives on it. I just think that as much land as possible that can be put into a sanctuary situation for wildlife should be done.”

Volcan Mountain Foundation also announced winning a $1.55 million grant award from the state Wildlife Conservation Board for forest restoration on Nov. 17.

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