New Laguna Coast Trail Opens 11/17 (CA)

LAGUNA BEACH, CA 11/10/2004 – It’s official: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park has grown by 70 acres. The coalition responsible – Laguna Canyon (LCF), Trust for Public Land (TPL), California State Coastal Conservancy (Coastal Conservancy), County of Orange and City of Laguna Beach—will hold a public ceremony to dedicate the new land at 11 a.m., Wednesday, November 17. The event will take place at the new Trinity trailhead, located at the end of Canyon Acres Drive (off of Laguna Canyon Road, east of the Sawdust Festival grounds). That morning the trail will be open to park users for the first time.

The new park addition is comprised of two parcels–the 36-acre Trinity and 34-acre Wainwright properties–which provide trail connections to the adjoining 17,000-acre South Coast Wilderness system of parks and preserves. TPL negotiated the terms of the purchase and worked closely with the city of Laguna Beach and County of Orange to purchase the properties and convey them to the city of Laguna Beach for permanent public protection. The Coastal Conservancy voted in March to allocate up to $800,000 of the Proposition 12 Park Bond funds to the City of Laguna Beach for these purchases. The city recently closed escrow on the properties. The added acreage will be managed by the County of Orange as part of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

Immediately adjacent to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, the Trinity and Wainwright properties are both located in the Laguna Canyon Creek watershed. Irregularly shaped and steeply sloped, they feature essentially untouched coastal sage scrub habitat. Long a subject for artists, the Wainwright property in the Big Bend area of Laguna Canyon encompasses jagged limestone cliffs, steep ravines and a thriving riparian habitat, a rarity in arid Southern California.

Approved by California state voters in March 2000, Proposition 12—the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air and Coastal Protection Bond Act—allocated $12.5 million to the Coastal Conservancy “to acquire land needed to connect important coastal watershed and scenic areas in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.” LCF, TPL, the city and the county have worked collectively with the public since 2001 to identify and set priorities for land acquisitions consistent with the Proposition 12 appropriation.

Said LCF President Michael Pinto, “With the government agencies and Trust for Public Land we have been able to acquire vital trail connections to increase the area of our existing park system. The addition of these two parcels reflects Californians’ intent in voting for the 2000 State Park Bond. We look forward to working with the Coastal Conservancy on future park land acquisitions.”

Added Scott Ferguson, TPL’s Orange County project manager, “The Trust for Public Land has worked to protect lands in and around the Laguna Coast for over 30 years, beginning with our involvement in the acquisition of Crescent Bay Point in the 1970s. We couldn’t do it without the support of our generous donors and friends. The purchase of the Trinity and Wainwright parcels continues our commitment to the Laguna Coast. We look forward to continuing land preservation in the region with Laguna Canyon Foundation.”

Said Coastal Conservancy Executive Officer Sam Schuchat, “We look forward to continuing this productive partnership with Laguna Canyon Foundation, Trust for Public Land, the city and the county in expanding the Laguna Coast greenbelt. The Coastal Conservancy has long assisted with planning and restoration in this area of southern Orange County.”

“This is yet another exciting milestone for Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Congratulations to the Foundation and all who have worked to add these parcels to the park. Knitting together these individual pieces will ultimately yield a remarkable and uninterrupted open space for future generations to use and enjoy,” commented Thomas Wilson, Fifth District Supervisor for the County of Orange.

Observed Laguna Beach Mayor Cheryl Kinsman, “These parcels will continue the process of preserving the hillsides of Laguna Canyon as permanent open space. They are especially valuable as regional trail links for hikers and cyclists.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to preserving land of recreational, ecological, and historical value for the public. TPL works with local, state, and federal agencies and grassroots community groups to protect open space nationwide. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.9 million acres valued at more than $3.5 billion nationwide. In Orange County, TPL has protected over 130 acres in Laguna Beach and nearly 2,000 acres in the Cleveland National Forest.

Laguna Canyon Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation dedicated to preserving, protecting, and enhancing southern California’s second largest coastal canyon wilderness. This 19,000-acre area includes marine preserves, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and adjoining open space in Irvine, Laguna Beach and Laguna Woods. For more information about the land preservation program and the park system call the Foundation at 949-497-8324.