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Adding Another Twig to Wildlands

The Laguna Canyon Foundation, the city of Laguna Beach and the California Coastal Conservancy added two acres of sensitive coastal sage scrub and oak woodland habitat, as well as a scenic public trail, to Laguna’s open space with the recent $325,000 purchase of the McGraw Property.

The property was acquired from local architect Robert McGraw and made possible by Proposition 12 funding through the state Coastal Conservancy.

“It may seem somewhat out of character for an architect to be ‘pro-open space’,” said McGraw, “but as a past Woodstock hippie, I have always been dedicated to retaining and managing open space for the good of all. Actually, it is essential for those of us who are involved in making new homes and renovating existing properties (including historic homes) in Laguna Beach to be strong voices for adding to and caring for our natural environment. I am proud to be able to be part of the conservation of Laguna Canyon.”

Max Borella, the foundation’s executive director, said the acquisition was complex because the property was entitled as a legal building site. “We placed a high priority on its preservation so it did not become developed at some point in the future,” he said.

Derek Ostensen, the foundation’s president and project manager for open space acquisition, negotiated and coordinated the deal with the foundation’s partners and funding sources. The land is adjacent to other lots also acquired by the city and contiguous to the Laguna Coast and Wood Canyon Wilderness Parks.

Over the past eight years, the three partners and Laguna Woods have added 250 acres of land to the wilderness park system.

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