By Sara Eggerton.

Over the past 40 years, the world’s vertebrate wildlife populations have decreased by as much as 60%, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In order for our natural heritage to be preserved for generations to come, children need to be taught about the importance of conservation from a very young age. One of the most efficient ways to do this is by taking a child out into nature to engage in fun activities while learning about the environment. While there are numerous places in and around Julian that will bring you closer to nature, a trip to Lake Cuyamaca is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to teach children about conservation.

Fishing has never been more enjoyable

Fishing has been proven to be not only a very enjoyable pastime for children, but a beneficial one too. Fishing can also provide children of all ages with a greater understanding of the importance of nature conservation. It will allow them to learn about the circle of life, and help them recognize the impact poaching and over-fishing can have on the environment. Lake Cuyamaca is the perfect fishing spot for young and old. Not only is it the only San Diago lake that sports trout throughout the year, but it also boasts a youth fishing program that allows organized youth groups who made reservations in advance to fish at no cost.

A lot can be learned from wildlife and bird watching

Teaching children how to identify various animal and bird species is a great, interactive way to spark an interest in conservation in them. There is ample opportunity for wildlife and bird watching at Lake Cuyamaca. The lake lies only three miles from the Anza Borego State Park’s desert rim, and is surrounded on three sides by Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, which provides the region with a diverse range of habitats that are home to an abundance of deer, skunks, raccoons, coyotes and bobcats. Lake Cuyamaca is also the perfect place to teach children about birds, considering that a large number of species, including larks, swallows, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, swifts and nightjars, frequent the area.

Lake Cuyamaca offers many opportunities for children to learn about conservation. Even if they are not particularly interested in the great outdoors, they will soon come around when they realize how much fun they can have outside.