About Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve
The Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve (SMER) is a Research Field Station of San Diego State University (SDSU) and the San Diego State University Foundation. The purpose of the Reserve is “to keep the property in its natural state for the preservation and protection of the native plants, animals and habitat, and for related educational and research purposes.”
The Reserve is a key part of preserving the entire Santa Margarita River, one of the last free-flowing rivers in coastal Southern California and its rich ecosystem. The Santa Margarita River officially begins at the northeastern boundary of the Reserve, at the confluence of Temecula and Murrieta Creeks. The River flows through the impressive Temecula Gorge of the Reserve, the lands owned by The Wildlands Conservancy, and empties into the ocean through the largly undisturbed lands of Camp Pendleton.
The Reserve has a total area of ~5,000 acres. The preservation of the reserve has become critical as humans pave over more and more of Southern California. It is now recognized that we cannot save the huge number of endagered plants and animals without saving large enough areas of the right kinds of habitat for them to thrive.
Murray Schloss bequeathed the core 2,480 acres in 1962 and originally intended to establish a Utopian community at the site, and in a sense, his vision has come to fruition with the establishment of the Reserve. At his death, Murray was accused of leaving the land to “dieties like the bees and flowers” and in essence he has done just that.