There’s a New Trail Boss in Town



Park trail boss Alan Kaufmann.
Park trail boss Alan Kaufmann.

After moving to Newport Beach a year ago from Flagstaff, Arizona, Alan Kaufmann worked with Earthroots Field School, based in Trabuco Canyon, teaching children wilderness survival skills.

Kaufmann is now working on wilderness survival of a different sort. Recently hired by the Laguna Canyon Foundation for the newly created position of habitat and trails restoration manager, he spends his days repairing damage on trails and to habitats within the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and the Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park, open lands that encircle Laguna Beach.

After taking the lead role at the foundation a year ago, Executive Director Hallie Jones says she saw a need for a full time position devoted to trail and habitat maintenance.

Kaufmann joins a small staff of seven paid employees who manage the 200 volunteers in the parks, leading hikes, coordinating education programs and manning the Nix Nature Center on Laguna Canyon Road.

The job entails much more than restoring habitats by planting native plants and repairing trails. Though the preservation and maintenance of the combined 20,000 acres is under the jurisdiction of OC Parks, they shoulder the responsibility with assistance.

“There are more than 20 friends-of type organizations lending a hand in addition to state agencies,” explained Jones. “We all work together; it’s like a tangled web which I would not want to untangle because it works,” she says.

Among the organizations that assist are Laguna Greenbelt, Safe Trails Coalition, Laguna Canyon Conservancy, the state Fish And Wildlife Department and the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.

Kaufmann is also charged with learning how this collection of organizations works together to accomplish their common mission of preserving the native ecosystem, providing refuge for urban dwellers and maintaining wildlife corridors. “I’m still learning about soil, flora and fauna here too,” says Kaufmann.

Jones considered 40 candidates. “But Alan’s skill set was the best match,” she said. Kaufmann graduated from Pomona College in Claremont with a bachelor’s degree in geology and holds a master’s degree in ecological restoration from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He has done trail and habitat restoration work for the Arizona Conservation Corps and trained AmeriCorps volunteers.

In his new job, Kaufmann says he would like to involve more hikers, bikers and runners as park volunteers.


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