Perserving Etiwanda

The North Etiwanda Preserve (NEP) is perhaps best known for its hiking trail, which not only presents hikers with lush scenery,but is also rich in history and home to a number of endangered, threatened and sensitive species of both fauna and flora.

California Gnatcatcher, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Least Bell’s Vireo, San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat, Bell’s Sage Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, San Diego Horned Lizard, Los Angeles Pocket Mouse, Plummer’s Lily, and the Mariposa Lily are just a handful of the species that coexist within the Etiwanda alluvial fan, which is located near the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, north of Rancho Cucamonga.

Established in 1998 to mitigate the impact the development the 210 freeway had on the environment, NEP was to be preserved as a natural habitat for the exclusive Riversidean Alluvial Fan Sage Scrub plant community and surrounding species of flora and fauna.

“It is estimated that 75% to 90% of all Coastal Sage Scrub habitats have been extirpated from Southern California and the Etiwanda Fan is one of three remaining expanses of Alluvial Fan Sage Scrub. In addition, the Preserve and surrounding lands also contain significant amounts of other rare and threatened habitats that include Sycamore Alluvial Woodland, California Walnut Woodland, and Fresh Water Marsh,” the San Bernardino County website explains.

All species within the area are protected by the 1970 California Endangered Species Act.

Along the mountainous trail, hikers will come across various informative placards that explain the significance of conserving the area and its role in protecting the sensitive species of the ecosystem, as well as some history on the water harvesting that took place within the area.

One placard reveals how the Chaffey brothers, William and George, in 1881 had purchased 560 acres of land. This launched the development of water delivery systems, water companies and organized the land improvement companies that within years led to the establishment of the town of Etiwanda, and later Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, and Upland.

The system of organization and water delivery used by the Chaffey brothers would become the leading model for the development of Southern California. In addition, the colonies were so effective that in 1903 the United States government selected Ontario as the standard for American irrigation colonies.

Today, the tunnels and pipeline systems constructed by the Chaffey brothers continue to survive and provide a portion of the water supply to the City of Rancho Cucamonga. They are managed and maintained by the Cucamonga Valley Water District.

The Chaffey brothers also explored the concept of using water to generate electricity, as electric lights at their Etiwanda home were the first in the nation to be lit with hydroelectric power.

One's actions may jeopardize the continued existence of the species and affect the habitat growth of the protected areas. As NEP has stated on their official Facebook page, “It is important to remember that this is a conversation site with an educational hiking element during the day, not a city or regional recreational area. Sustainability of the habitat is our priority and mission, to which their nocturnal hunting habits are important to maintain without human disturbance."