Banning Ranch Gets $8 Million Boost from California Legislature
California lawmakers have approved $8 million dollars towards the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conserve Banning Ranch, one of the last remaining parcels of privately owned land along the Southern California coast. The 385-acre property has long been eyed for its potential as a public park, nature preserve, and outdoor recreation destination.
Conservationists, park and recreation enthusiasts and community leaders all applauded Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris for championing the conservation project in the legislature, which has been a labor of love among local environmental organizations, education leaders, local property and business owners for decades.
“Forever protecting Banning Ranch is a one-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, whose district includes the property. “This project will restore vital coastal wetlands, provide unparalleled coastal access for surrounding underserved communities and preserve this jewel for all Southern Californians to enjoy.”
Support for the project has also come from Senator Dave Min, whose district also includes Banning Ranch, as well as the administration, which has shown a strong commitment to land protection and equitable outdoor access.
“Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris and Senator Min, as well as the governor and members of his administration deserve the gratitude of all Californians for their vision and hard work,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, state director for The Trust for Public Land. “Reducing oil operations and putting Banning Ranch in public hands is a legacy issue for California, one that will provide park equity and coastal access to millions in the region.”
“As a longtime resident of Orange County, and one who has been working on protecting Banning Ranch for over 20 years, I am proud of the leadership from Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris,” said Terry Welsh, president of the Banning Ranch Conservancy. “She is a true champion of coastal conservation who understands the significant economic, recreational and climate benefits Banning Ranch can provide for our community and the broader region.”
At stake is a 385-acre parcel of coastal land at the estuary of the Santa Ana River that provides habitat for rare and endangered species. The Trust For Public Land and other conservationists
have been strategizing for ways to conserve the land as a public park and nature preserve ever since the current owners announced an interest in selling the property.
The Trust For Public Land currently holds an exclusive agreement to purchase the land for $97 million. More than half of that amount so far has come from local private philanthropists Frank and Joann Randall, who have committed $50 million. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recently added another $8 million, bringing the project even closer to its goal.
“The California State Legislature shows great foresight in making this investment,” Rodriguez said. “This marks a significant milepost in the march to protect Banning Ranch for the people of Orange County and millions of others in surrounding communities who will benefit from the outdoor recreational opportunities at Banning Ranch.”
The state budget is now headed to Governor Newsom’s desk for his signature before California’s fiscal year begins on July 1.
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About the Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.