Cleveland National Forest protector wins award

he prestigious Feinstone Award, presented annually by the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, has been awarded to San Diego County resident Duncan McFetridge. This year's award will be made to McFetridge and three other individuals who by their voluntary action, and on an unpaid basis, have made an outstanding contribution to improving the physical environment.
Mr. McFetridge, who resides in Descanso, is President of Save Our Forest and Ranchlands, and recently assumed the post of Executive Director of the recently-formed Cleveland National Forest Foundation.
This award is the result of Mr. McFetridge's tireless efforts. In 1993, he virtually single-handedly generated a ground swell of county-wide support to establish the San Diego County Forest Conservation Initiative. The initiative, a landmark effort now being emulated by others throughout the state, saved the Cleveland National Forest from mass urbanization and its virtual destruction. The initiative was overwhelmingly approved by 65.7 percent of the voters.
Presentation of the award will be made by the President of the State University of New York, who will travel to San Diego in the early fall to present the award to Mr. McFetridge.
The Cleveland National Forest Foundation is a non-profit citizens' organization undertaking the task of guarding and implementing the voters' mandate to preserve one of the most precious forests in our country, its endangered wildlife and diverse natural resources.
The Cleveland is recognized as the last wilderness in our region. Established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, the Cleveland's original 2 million acres has now been reduced to only 65,000. The plants and animals surviving in this small remnant - including the puma, mule deer, golden eagle, bald eagle, spotted owl, pond turtle, and San Diego thornmint - continue to be threatened by urban development. Large areas of open land are critical for their survival. The forest provides valuable watershed and grazing areas, and is host to two world-class observatories. The Cleveland functions as an important wilderness area linking Orange and Riverside counties to points south and east. The Forest watershed supplies up to 20 percent of San Diego's drinking water, saving many millions of dollars in imported water costs.
The Cleveland National Forest is composed of four non-contiguous land areas in San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties, separated by private lands that include areas of rapid development. Within its boundaries, the national forest is checkered with private property. All of this produces the constant pressure of encroaching development - but also the opportunity for acquisition or maintenance of land for preservation.
The Foundation's primary mission is to acquire private land to extend, protect and restore the integrity of this vital natural refuge for all Southern California. Private contributions will be used by the Foundation to qualify for federal and state matching funds for strategic land purchases and conservation agreements to preserve private lands.
The Foundation has assembled a prestigious body of advisors including the Zoological Society of San Diego, the U.S. Forest Service, Sweetwater Authority, eminent scientists, large landowners, the Audubon Society, Mt. Laguna Observatory, and San Diego County Fly Fishers.
All contributions are tax deductible. For more information or to request a brochure, call (619) 595-3693, or write the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, P.O. Box 779, Descanso CA 91916.