Conservation Update, 2016 Nov | Santa Ana Mtn National Monument, Coast to Cleveland Corridor, SCAG


The two different, but overlapping, proposals are still in play to designate part or all of the Santa Ana Mountains as a national monument.

1. The Santa Ana Mountains to Sea National Monument is proposed by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton); it is expected that he will soon introduce a bill proposing this monument to Congress. This version of the monument would encompass about 101,500 acres of OC, principally:

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

Crystal Cove State Park

Upper Newport Bay Nature Reserve

Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve

Limestone/Whiting/Black Star Wilderness Parks and adjacent units of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks

O’Neill Wilderness Park

Caspers Wilderness Park

The upper watersheds of canyons that drain into Santiago and Aliso Creeks, and upper Trabuco and San Juan watersheds (north of Ortega Highway) that drain into San Juan Creek. These upper watersheds, together, encompass about 1/3 of the Trabuco District, Cleveland National Forest (OC’s backyard mountains).

2.  A coalition of interested enviro groups (including representatives of OCCNPS and Riverside/San Bernardino CNPS, and organized by CalWild) have met three times since August, working to formulate a Santa Ana Mountains National Monument that would encompass the entire range. This version would have about the same boundaries as the Trabuco District, plus bordering reserved natural lands and wildlife corridors extending from them. The coalition is proposing to Rep. Royce that the two national monument ideas be blended.

The non-federal lands in Rep. Royce’s proposal are now protected by the Central-Coastal NCCP, which ends in 55 years. A national monument designation would extend that protection forever. The lands’ habitat restoration and maintenance would continue as at present under a national monument designation (at least at first). That management is now supported by an endowment, which unfortunately is underfunded.

National monument designations do not automatically come with federal financial support for management. Congress must approve any such support for a given monument. Approval has been difficult in the recent political climate. A result is that CalWild must seek to fundraise in the private sector to pay for management of the public lands that it works to protect.


A Corridor stakeholders’ meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 21, 11 AM at IRC HQ. Among the topics: the relationship of the corridor to the proposed versions of the Santa Ana Mountains National Monument. More info: and


Last Spring, OCCNPS commented on native-plant aspects of the Natural and Farmlands Conservation Appendix of SCAG’s Draft 2016 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. Now, we have been invited to participate in the upcoming Natural and Farmlands Working Group: a consortium of experts and stakeholders in the fields of habitat conservation, agriculture, and land use. The group’s goal is to provide direction for policy implementation based on strategies in the 2016 RTP/SCS. This is an opportunity for CNPS, through OCCNPS, to have substantive input into policy implementation, for OC and SoCal.

Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

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