Conservation Update, 2018 May | Prop 68, Trabuco “Fuels Management”, Preserve at San Juan

From the Desk of Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair



This measure, on the June 5 ballot, would authorize the State of California to sell $4.1 billion in general obligation bonds to fund parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply, and flood protection. Details are in the Official Voters information Guide.

The OC enviro community supports Prop. 68, not least because it could provide funding to purchase lands and do restoration that is vital to the missions of several OC groups, including but not limited to:

  1. Banning Ranch Conservancy: potentially, preserve all 401 acres of Newport Banning Ranch.
  2. Bolsa Chica Land Trust: finalize acquisition of the 28.2Uacre Ridge and Goodell properties (a very important Native American heritage site) and provide funding for projects that are muchUneeded for sustainable habitats within Bolsa Chica.
  3. Hills for Everyone: potentially, thousands of undeveloped acres along the Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor are eligible for funding for purchase. Matching funding is available for some of them.
  4. Laguna Greenbelt: support preservation and restoration of the 6-mile-long Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor.


The draft Decision Notice for the South Main Divide and Greater El Cariso Fuels Management Environmental Assessment (EA) was issued on April 22. There is a 45-day objection period, see

The EA details the Trabuco Ranger District’s proposal to treat vegetation along South and North Main Divide Roads and Long Canyon Road in order to mitigate the potential effects of wildfires. The treatments will cut down or masticate most of the chaparral and limb up the larger oaks in a zone up to 300 ft. wide along the roads. North of Ortega Hwy, treatment will be done along most of the Long Cyn. Rd.-Main Divide Rd. loop. South of Ortega, treatment will be done along Main Divide Rd. from the Hwy. to the Forest boundary. The cut material will be piled, allowed to dry awhile, then chipped or burned. Herbicide will be sprayed to limit the chaparral’s regrowth.

OCCNPS has commented several times on this Fuels Management project, through its several iterations over several years. We contend that such wholesale chaparral removal opens the roadsides to increased invasion by non-native weeds, that quickly become flashy fuels that tend to burn faster than the chaparral and act as wicks to lead fire deeper into intact native vegetation. We will object, again, to this decision.


The OC Board of Supervisors approved this project on April 10. It calls for 72 1-acre lots for executive houses on about 80 acres of the 580-acre inholding, located just south of El Cariso Village and west of Ortega Hwy. The project proposes that the remainder of the inholding (mostly steep slopes and a canyon) will become part of District lands.

The Endangered Habitats League, Sea and Sage Audubon, and OCCNPS have all opposed this development, in its various iterations, for a decade or more. Sadly, none of us have the resources to take the next step of opposition, a lawsuit.    


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