CONSERVATION

ALISO CREEK:  Two projects, intended to improve two segments of lower Aliso Creek, have recently been proposed:

1. The Army Corps of Engineers and OC Public Works Department have released the Draft EIS/EIR for the proposed Aliso Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project. This project has been several years in the planning. The EIS/EIR can be downloaded:  http://www.spl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Projects-Studies/Aliso-Creek-Study/. Comments deadline is November 13.

The project covers the creek’s five miles within Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, plus another two miles upstream to Pacific Park Drive. The project’s primary purpose is to restore the creek bed to a more natural profile. To that end, several changes in infrastructure are called for in the project area. 

In particular, in the segment within the park in which the channel is deeply eroded, the plan calls for filling the channel bottom and lowering its sides to restore the floodplain and its functions. This will allow healthy riparian habitat to be restored along what now is a barren, vertical-sided, mile-plus-long, 25-foot deep gully. Such work will need to be done with heavy machinery, making it probably the most controversial part of the project.

2. A plan to restore the 7-acre estuary at the mouth of Aliso Creek has been proposed by the Laguna Ocean Foundation. The plan would remove most of the parking lot that is now on the inland side of Coast Highway at Aliso Beach, and the channelization that was done long ago. That will allow restoration and enlargement of the wetlands, and their aboriginal environmental functioning. The Foundation’s website has a thorough discussion of the project’s purpose and goals:  https://www.lagunaoceanfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Aliso_Creek_Estuary_Restoration_Public_Meeting.pdf

OCCNPS supports the principle of restoring the creek to a more natural, functioning habitat. We are still studying these proposals to see if they are likely to fulfill that principle.

CONSERVATION

CNPS & CLIMATE CHANGE: Debate on why and how CNPS should work on climate change issues has been flowing for many weeks among the CNPS Conservation Committee members. The debate intensified when we became faced with the incoming anti-enviro federal government.

It may seem a no--‐brainer: CNPS works to protect and enhance native plants and the habitats they form, and those plants and habitats are and will be affected by ongoing climate change, so of course CNPS works on climate change issues. But the particulars of climate change’s effects on native plants in relation to CNPS’ existing policies and practices has led to profound discussion of those policies and practices and the philosophy behind them.

Two different, but overlapping, proposals have been made to designate part or all of our backyard Santa Ana Mountains as a National Monument. Stay tuned to see if a Monument is designated, and if so, what it includes!

1. The Santa Ana Mountains to Sea National Monument would encompass about 101,500 acres of OC, principally:

- Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

- Crystal Cove State Park

- Upper Newport Bay

- Bommer Canyon

- about 1/3 of the Trabuco District (Cleveland National Forest).

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, is expected to introduce a bill proposing this Monument to Congress in September. See latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-monument-20160823-story.html for details.

2.  A small group, which included activists from the Sierra Club and the California Chaparral Institute, met earlier this summer to discuss a Santa Ana Mountains National Monument that would encompass the entire range, with about the same boundaries as the Trabuco District.

Another meeting on this proposal is scheduled for Sept. 22, 10-1, at the Wildomar Library, 34303 Mission Trail, Wildomar, CA. About 35 are signed to attend, including several OC residents. If you would like to attend, contact Linda Castro, . Video call-in is available. To carpool from San Juan Capistrano, contact Celia Kutcher, .

The idea of designating the Santa Ana Mountains as a National Monument has been around for a while. One version, the “Grizzly Bear National Monument” was so-called in honor of the last grizzly bear in California, which was killed in Trabuco Canyon in 1908. 

CONSERVATION

ON NATIONAL MONUMENT PROPOSALS FOR THE SANTA ANA MTS AND OC

The two different, but overlapping, proposals are still in play to designate part or all of the Santa Ana Mountains as a national monument.

1. The Santa Ana Mountains to Sea National Monument is proposed by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton); it is expected that he will soon introduce a bill proposing this monument to Congress. This version of the monument would encompass about 101,500 acres of OC, principally:

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

Crystal Cove State Park

Upper Newport Bay Nature Reserve

Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve

Limestone/Whiting/Black Star Wilderness Parks and adjacent units of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks

O’Neill Wilderness Park

Caspers Wilderness Park

2018 CNPS Conservation Conference Travel Grant

Congratulations to Marlee Antill, James Bailey, Rebecca Crow, Hailey Laskey, and Wilnelia Ricart, winners of our 2018 CNPS Conservation Conference Student Travel Grant! We look forward to seeing them at the Conference next February. 

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