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San Luis Rey Downs Golf Course Could Revert to Wetlands

Aired 2/24/14 on KPBS News.

North County residents living near the San Luis Rey Downs golf course will find out tonight about a proposal to return the golf course to natural habitat.

The San Luis Rey Downs Country Club may not be a golf course for much longer.

It’s not the first time a golf course in San Diego has fallen on hard times. Increasing water rates and falling membership has made some courses prime targets for developers. (For example the Escondido Country Club )

But in this case the idea is not to develop the land - rather it is to remove hundreds of thousand of yards of fill used to create the golf course in the 1960s, and turn the site back into native wetland.

David Castenon is Chief of the Regulatory Division of the LA district of the Army Corps of Engineers, that includes Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and parts of Utah. He said this is the first time he’s seen an application to turn a golf course into a mitigation bank : in other words, land available to sell to offset environmental damage by development.

“In our district, this is the only one that’s been proposed for an existing golf course,” he said, “ I understand there are some other golf courses that have expressed interest, but they have not proceeded to the point where they have submitted a formal request.”

This evening’s public hearing at the Golf Course Club House is put on by the company that has taken out an exclusive option to buy the golf course, Conservation Land group, Inc. IF the company can get the permits to return it to natural habitat, it could then sell that land to developers who needs to offset environmental damage from their projects

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