Conservation Update, 2014 Mar | Parks Forward Commission, Saddle Crest

PARKS FORWARD: OC is home to 7 units of the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR):

– 5 State Beaches: Bolsa Chica, Huntington, Corona del Mar, Doheny and San Clemente. Each of these is each relatively small in acreage, has little or no connection to any wildland area, and is very popular with the beach-going public.

– 2 State Parks: Chino Hills and Crystal Cove (which also has beaches). Both these units have considerable natural acreage that is an important element in OC wildland preservation and connectivity.

San Onofre State Beach/Park is just over the line in San Diego Co., but OC enviros consider it part of OC. It has the very popular Trestles surfing beach, as well as considerable natural acreage that is an important element in OC/SoCal wildland preservation and connectivity.

In 2012, facing a budget crunch, the DPR planned to close 70 of its 280 parks statewide, including Chino Hills SP. But a series of embarrassing revelations showed that DPR had accumulated about $53 million total in a couple of secret funds, while deferred maintenance costs had risen to exceed $1 billion.

These troubles prompted the launch, in 2013, of the volunteer Parks Forward Commission (PFC), charged with analyzing and overhauling the park system to make it more sustainable over the next century. The PFC’s website,, contains much background, information and commentary on the factfinding that PFC has been doing.

Last fall 10 public workshops were held statewide to get stakeholder input into what’s wrong with the parks and the DPR, and what to do to fix them. The workshops are archived at The workshop in OC was held on Oct. 16, 2013. It is instructive to compare and contrast the concerns of stakeholders in the 10 areas. Compare also the public comments during the PFC’s most recent meeting, at

Several CNPSers statewide have noted that the PFC needs to be encouraged to include in their recommendations how better to manage the “under served” community of plants and animals that are the foundation of most State Parks. A CNPS letter to that effect is in process.


Developer Rutter Santiago LC’s appeal is now in the “briefing phase.” Rutter’s brief, detailing why they think the Superior Court’s finding for the petitioners (our side) should be overturned, was filed at the beginning of the year. Our side’s attorneys are preparing a brief in response. As of this writing, a hearing date has not been set.

See the Nov-Dec 2012, Jan-Feb, Sept-Oct and Nov-Dec 2013 Newsletters, and references therein, for background on OCCNPS/CNPS involvement in this lawsuit and its preceding actions, and how the development would set a very damaging precedent.

Saddleback Canyons Conservancy and Rural Canyons Conservation Fund continue to spearhead the environmental coalition (which also includes Audubon California, CNPS, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks) on this side of the battle.

ACTION NOW:  Please donate to help defend the Superior Court’s ruling, at Donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

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