On behalf of Laguna Canyon Foundation, I’d like to express our gratitude to the many individuals and organizations who contributed to the recent preservation of the 150-acre Aliso Canyon property. The property’s significant biological resources and soaring coastal and wilderness park vistas, as well as its large amount of acreage, make it a particularly unique open space resource.
Acquisition of the property comprised a complex and multi-year process and its ultimate preservation is another great success story from OCTA’s Measure M2 Program, which has conserved more than 1,300 acres and restored 400 plus acres across Orange County. The M2 Program has pioneered a new, collaborative approach to freeway improvements in which transportation projects (for example, adding a lane to the 91 to reduce traffic) are programmatically mitigated in coordination with wildlife agencies, environmental organizations, taxpayer representatives, and others. We have found the M2 Program to be transparent, inclusive and scientifically-sound and we applaud OCTA’s board, Environmental Oversight Committee and excellent staff for the program’s many achievements.
We would like to commend EOC Chair, Lori Donchak, and EOC Vice-Chair, Melanie Schlotterbeck, for their skilled leadership and we thank each member of the EOC for their tremendous contributions to the M2 Environmental Program. Although Pat Bates is now a State senator, we would also like to note her substantial past involvement as EOC chair. Senator Bates contributed exemplary skill, vision and dedication to the M2 Program over many years and her commitment to maximizing public and environmental benefits continues to play an important role in the ongoing successes of the M2 Program.
Laguna Beach’s dedicated City Council, including past and present members, and talented city staff also worked hard to see this acquisition realized, making a number of essential contributions. The wildlife agencies have worked tirelessly to craft the solid underlying science of the program to ensure high-quality, fact-based standards. Approximately 30 Orange County environmental groups were instrumental in the original allocation of environmental funds in the M2 Program and continue to help guide the program’s conservation efforts. And many of you reading this voted for the M2 ballot measure, giving each of you a hand in both the environmental and transportation benefits of the program, including the Aliso Canyon acquisition.
Conservation in Orange County has always been a “team effort” and we are deeply grateful for everyone’s contributions to this important cause. Let’s continue the momentum together and let’s complete the 60-year open space effort — this latest acquisition puts us one step closer to the finish line!
Derek Ostensen, Laguna Beach
Laguna Canyon Foundation