New public dog training facility opens Saturday
By Ed Zieralski, UNION-TRIBUNE
Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 1:57 p.m.
JAMUL — The Honey Springs Ranch Unit of the Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area has gone to the dogs, but that’s not a bad thing at all.
Opening officially Saturday with a ceremony featuring San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, the Honey Springs Sporting Dog Training Facility will be open and free to the public to all who want to train their hunting dogs to point, flush or retrieve. The project brought together private and public sectors and included the South Coast Region of the Department of Fish and Game and the San Diego County Wildlife Federation, which is a consortium of sporting and conservation groups that have been doing good things for fish and wildlife in the county for decades.
“This is a poster child project, an example of how we as volunteers can augment the Department of Fish and Game at a time when it has budget problems and is short-staffed,” said Jim Conrad of the San Diego County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Commission. “None of this would have happened without all the groups working together. But the public can come here and see the tangible results of that cooperative effort.”
Bob Smith, president of the Federation and a member of the local chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association, said his group worked closely with DFG regional manager Ed Pert’s staff, led by supervising biologist Terri Stewart. Together they made the dog training facility a reality and the first of its kind in San Diego County.
“Our goal was to develop a first-class training facility for training sporting dogs,” Smith said. “In the process, we helped restore natural habitat and native wildlife by removing non-native plants (particularly foxtail) on this incredible property.”
The DFG made the Honey Springs Ranch Unit of Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area available for the facility, and the DFG also provided staff to help on the project.
“It’s a matter of finding a balance between protecting resources and allowing for recreation,” the DFG’s Pert said. “We’ve done that successfully here. Sporting dogs play a big part in conservation by finding and picking up birds that otherwise might not be found. They are a big part of the sport’s ethics, and that’ why this facility is so important.”
A full list of work tasks were done that include signs showing where the training areas are and the other areas that are restricted due to sensitive habitat; restoration of the well on the property with new water lines; removal of several dead and dying eucalyptus trees that were burned during the 2007 wildfire; a fenced parking lot and 40 native coast live saplings, complete with a drip irrigation system, all done by Eagle Scouts; a quail drinker and a detailed plan for training ponds as called for by the original management plan.
Conrad and his fellow commissioners were responsible for much of the grant money, around $19,000, to cover a bulk of the costs.
At present it’s an upland training facility, but ponds will be added in the next phase. It’s not for hunting or target shooting, just training dogs.
DFG regulations state dog training may be done at the facility from Sept. 1 through Feb. 28, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
To reach the facility, east of Jamul, take Highway 94 to Honey Springs Road, go north 2.2 miles past a line of white fence. Look for the entrance to the facility 100 yards past the end of the fence.