California Coastal Conservancy Approves Grant up to $11.5 Million to Protect Banning Ranch

Banning Ranch, one of the last remaining parcels of privately owned land along the Southern California coast, would restore coastal wetlands, address climate change, and create park access for millions

May 5, 2022
SACRAMENTO

 Today, the California State Coastal Conservancy voted to approve a grant of up to $11.5 million towards the purchase of Banning Ranch. The 385-acre property has long been eyed for its potential as a public park, nature preserve, and outdoor recreation destination. 

“Banning Ranch is such a significant property not only for outdoor equity in Southern California, but for advancing California’s bold goal of protecting 30 percent of the state’s lands and coastal waters by 2030,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, California State Director and Vice President-Pacific Region for Trust for Public Land. “This project has been a top priority for decades and thanks to the Coastal Conservancy grant we are now within arm's reach of transforming this longtime oil field into an extraordinary public and cultural space.” 

Banning Ranch is within the ancestral homelands of local California Native American tribes and people, and holds important significance for these tribes and community. The Banning Ranch site, in addition to the adjacent Fairview Park and other bluff areas near the Santa Ana River, is believed to have been part of the native village site known as Genga (or Gengaa). The Coastal Conservancy’s grant requires the property to be managed and operated for open space protection, wildlife habitat, environmental restoration and conservation, potential lower-cost coastal accommodations, and public access with a special focus on access for local California Native American tribes and people. 

For more than two decades, the Banning Ranch Conservancy with a coalition of nonprofit organizations, government partners, and community and tribal activists have fought to preserve it and transform it as a regional public asset. Within an hour’s drive from the property, about half of the population is considered low-income, one-third of residents live in park-deficient communities, and 66 percent of residents are of Hispanic or Asian descent, making the project a high priority for addressing the park equity gap region-wide.   

Protecting this property from development aligns with California’s ambitious climate goals and “30 x 30” initiative that calls for the protection of 30% of the state’s land and coastal waters by the year 2030. Preventing development and restoring the property to open space can help mitigate impacts from sea level rise, sequester carbon in area wetlands and provide habitat for a half dozen of endangered and threatened species, all of which are key priorities in the initiative. 

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 $8 million and the California state legislature added another $8 million. 

After working with partners to raise the funds needed to purchase the property, this Coastal Conservancy grant puts us within close reach and there is strong confidence for the official public ownership of Banning Ranch by summer 2022. 

About Trust for Public Land  

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres of public land, created more than 5,000 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $84 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected more than 9 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.