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Located in the Descanso Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest the Laguna Mountain Recreation area provides visitors over 70 miles of hiking trails through a forest of contrasts To reach the recreation area travel East from downtown San Diego on Interstate 8 exit at Sunrise Highway Continue North on the Sunrise Highway to the Visitor Information Office at mile marker 235 In addition to selling the required Adventure Pass 5 for day use 30 for annual use the Information Center provides an abundance of maps and literature related to the trails flora and fauna of the region A Historical Overview Prior to the arrival of Spanish settlers in the 1500s only the Kumeyaay Luisenos Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians knew these lands These desert and coastal Indians who summered in the mountain forests had little difficulty making a good living due to the wealth of acorns berries and wild game In the 1700s as the land was parceled out in large land grants a ranching culture developed and the land underwent drastic changes as European and Asian plants grasses and weeds were introduced to the area In fact many botanists argue that the introduction of alien plants had more affect on the land than any other single factor In addition to the introduction of non-native plants the ranchers allowed widespread overgrazing cut brush and trees for housing and fences and set fires to produce forage basically expanding the practices of the Indians centuries earlier In 1908 President Roosevelt combined the Trabuco Forest Reserve with the San Jacinto Forest Reserve to form the new 1904826 acre Cleveland National Forest During the following 17 years there were several major deletions and few additions to the Cleveland today the forest consists of approximately 420000 acres from 5 miles North of the Mexican border northward approximately 130 miles to Orange and Riverside counties The Ecosystem The Cleveland National Forest is
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