Whelan Ranch

Area: 153 acres

Location: City of Oceanside, San Diego County, California

Date Acquired: 1998

Acquisition Type: CNLM owns the preserve.  We protect and manage imperiled species and habitats on the preserve in perpetuity.

Key Habitats:  Coastal Scrub and California Annual and Perennial Grassland

Species of Special Interest to CNLM: Coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) 


The Whelan Ranch Preserve was established in 1998 as a mitigation bank for and Diegan coastal sage scrub. The 153 acre Preserve lies approximately 0.5 miles north of the San Luis Rey River and near Pilgrim Creek. Mitigation credits were sold to accommodate mitigation needs in the Oceanside area.  This Preserve represents one of the last remaining stands of Diegan coastal sage scrub habitat in the City of Oceanside.

Conservation Significance

This Preserve is comprised of approximately 125 acres of nonnative grassland, and 28 acres of Diegan coastal sage scrub. The latter supports the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher, which is protected by conservation of this site. Other notable species include mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), grasshopper sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum), and roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus).

Our Work

The Whelan Ranch Preserve is owned and managed by the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM). Management goals aim to restore the nonnative grasslands to native grasslands and Diegan coastal sage scrub.  Restoration strategies used to achieve this goal include using prescribed fire to remove nonnative grasses and imprinting native sage scrub plant seeds into areas targeted for restoration. These restoration efforts have increased the total acreage of coastal sage scrub and native grassland while reducing nonnative plant species. CNLM staff monitor the site regularly for coastal California gnatcatchers and cactus wren, as there is a very large stand of cactus on the Preserve.

Public Access

Due to the vulnerability of the species and habitats that exist on this preserve, it is not open to the public.


For information about the Whelan Ranch Preserve or Center for Natural Lands Management, please contact Stephen Rink, Preserve Manager at srink@cnlm.org or 760.731.7790 extension 212.