Laguna Canyon Foundation receives $1 million to create preserve around headquarters

Tricia and Michael Berns

Laguna Canyon Foundation (LCF) announced it will receive a $1 million gift from Michael and Tricia Berns of Laguna Beach to design and create the Michael and Tricia Berns Canyon Preserve, which surrounds the nonprofit’s headquarters at the Massen Greene House. 

After an extensive interview process, the Foundation selected Terremoto Landscape Design Studio as its project partner. The Berns agreed to earmark $500,000 of their donation to create a quasi-endowment for the operation and maintenance of the property.

“Our headquarters are located in the heart of the South Coast Wilderness with beautiful views and incredible wildlife. The Canyon Preserve will be both a place of education and inspiration for the community as well as a hub for Laguna Canyon Foundation’s conservation, education and advocacy work,” said Hallie Jones, executive director of Laguna Canyon Foundation.  “We are truly grateful for the Berns’ generosity and their shared commitment to the environment. It is such a pleasure to work with them for the future of our open space.”

As a child growing up in the San Fernando Valley, Michael Berns recalls taking one school field trip, into the wilds of Culver City to the Helms Bakery plant.

Since moving to Orange County in 1987, though, Berns and his wife Trisha started exploring the wilderness in their backyard, hiking and biking the combined 7,400 acres in Crystal Cove State Park and the adjoining county-managed Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

Michael Berns was an associate professor of accounting at Cal State Northridge. Tricia Berns is actively involved in the local arts community and serves on an advisory panel for the gem and mineral collection at the Smithsonian.

In 2013, the Berns donated $1 million to Crystal Cove State Park, which will go to create and sustain the Berns Environment Study Loop.

“It’s very important to us that an area like Laguna Canyon be not only a place for recreation but also a place of education, learning for the children, and conservation,” Berns said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “That would benefit our community in the long run.

The Laguna Beach City Council unanimously approved a naming agreement with LCF that will allow the installation of a monument sign at the Laguna Canyon property’s entrance. In 2016, the Foundation entered into a lease agreement with LCF for the land that’s home to the LCF headquarters.

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