Fundraising efforts continue to rebuild Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve
Tenaja Fire flames scorched areas around the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve Visitor Center along Clinton Keith Road, Sept. 4. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

The fires that ravaged large portions of the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve in Murrieta Sept. 4, 2019, burned 2,000 acres on the reserve and rendered the site closed to the public.

The Tenaja Fire damaged or destroyed fencing, bridges, gates, plant and animal habitats, the program stage, a storage unit, event equipment and benches.

But slowly and surely, the plateau, one of the region’s most beautiful reserves, is coming back to life.

According to the Santa Rosa Plateau Nature Education Foundation, which is spearheading a plethora of fundraising efforts to help the center rebuild, some portions of the reserve have reopened and educational programs are beginning to start back up on a limited basis.

The group recently announced that the Sylvan Meadows Trailhead is now reopened. The multi-use area on Tenaja Road is now open to dog walkers, hikers, cyclists and equestrians. Visitors are asked to check in at the trailhead and pay the day-use fee at the iron ranger station.

Repair work is also being done on fencing, signage, bridges and benches. They have also begun work rehabilitating certain habitats at the reserve.

While all of that is underway, the visitor center, Hidden Valley and Vernal Pool trailheads remain closed.

The group said volunteers are still needed as “Gate Keepers,” and they can sign up to volunteer by emailing

Though work has begun to repair the center and the reserve, the SRPNEF is still short of reaching its goal of raising $100,000 to help the recovery efforts. It is estimated that it will cost $300,000 to fully repair and rehabilitate the reserve.

SRPNEF lost approximately $18,000 in equipment and supplies. To date, $50,000 has been raised.

The group recently introduced the Fire Fund 1000 Club designed to simplify the process and is asking for donations of $1000 from companies and individuals. Donors will be recognized on a “Fire Fund Thank You” donor board to be permanently on display at the SRP Visitor Center.

Donations can be made by check payable to SRP Fire Fund or credit card, and donations are 100% tax-deductible. To become a member of the Fire Fund 1000 Club, email

Residents can help the cause when they eat with a couple of fundraisers happening at local restaurants.

Visitors to Garage Brewing Co. Pizzeria Wednesdays and Thursdays who mention SRP Fire Fund at the time of ordering will contributed to the restaurant’s donation of 25% of the bill to the fund. Visit Garage Brewing Pizzeria at 29095 Old Town Front Street in Temecula.

Tresino’s Italian Restaurant in Wildomar along with Brian Penna of Coldwell Banker Murrieta are planning a special event Tuesday, Feb. 4, to benefit the SRP Fire Fund. The event will feature food, music, live and silent auctions, and Tresino’s will also be donating 15% of all lunch and dinner sales on that day to the fund. Visit the restaurant, Feb. 4, at 36068 Hidden Springs Road in Wildomar.

Several artists are also throwing in their support by donating some of the proceeds from sales of their artwork to the SRP Fire Fund.

Sculptor Austin Casson will donate 20% of all sales, and wildlife photographer Dick Cronberg is donating 25% from sales of any of his Etsy artworks, including digital downloads, to the SRP Fire Fund.

See Casson’s work at Shop Cronberg’s work at

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at

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