Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007 | Two thousand feet below the peak of San Miguel Mountain, the brown landscape is cut in half.
Look west, and the San Diego metroplex starts, all red-tile roofs and new asphalt and car windshields twinkling in the streaming sunlight.
Look east, and jagged mountain ridges jut up through the haze, blanketed in native plants home to 22 endangered and threatened species.
This is the dividing line between coastal sprawl and the eastern backcountry, the buffer between new California and the chaparral-covered landscape that defined old California.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist John Martin looks out from the 2,500-foot peak east of San Diego, and sweeps his hand across the horizon.
“As San Diego marches east,” Martin says, “this is the front line.”