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East County's Damon Lane Park is 26 acres of scenic and varied landscape. The secretly stashed park recently received an overhaul, according to the County of San Diego Parks and Recreation department.

District park manager David Martinez says, “In the last few years we’ve had pretty serious fires in the backcountry and so have been very proactive with our vegetation management program."

Which the local residents appreciate: last year, a bottle rocket ignited a two-and-a-half acre brush fire in the center of the park. The burned-out area is turning green once again. In the surrounding park area, vegetation has been thick. Of particular concern are the ladder fuels -- those dead branches that can carry fire from the ground up into the canopy, upon which fire growth potential explodes.

“We’ve been removing the dead wood, the dead fuel, and cleaning it up. We’ve been removing some of the nonnative species as well, like arundo and tamarisk. The California Conservation Corps has been in there doing a lot of good work.”

As a result of the clearing, trails are improved and visibility has been increased. Open trails dip along a trickling stream and flow into shaded eucalyptus groves; they taper through thick sagebrush and manzanita. The loop, approximately one mile in length, is easily traversed by foot or bike. To the south, one can exit onto Wieghorst Way and continue on trails that extend up and down both sides of the street.

On Saturday, March 28, a favorite local science teacher and accomplished naturalist, Bruce Wollitz, will guide residents through the park, sharing his knowledge of native and migrating birds, and native and invasive plants. Visit gmia.net for more information.

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SMartin June 2, 2009 @ 7:31 a.m.

After recently moving to Vista Dorada, my son discovered this awesome little park, and now I visit it regularly. It's a wonderful side trek on daily walks, and provides much peace and serenity. I found this article after googling the park name with the neighborhood, hoping to find more info on it. Thanks!

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