Conservation Update, 2015 Mar | Banning Ranch, Madrona, Esperanza, Saddle Crest, Cleveland NF Unauthorized Routes

BANNING RANCH:  The California Coastal Commission is bringing an enforcement action against Banning Ranch’s landowners for unpermitted habitat destruction an oil field activity. The matter is expected to be heard at the Commission’s March 11-13 meeting in Chula Vista.

ACTION NOW: Especially if you live in Newport Beach or Costa Mesa, contact for the exact date, time, and location, and plan to attend. A large turnout will tell the Commissioners that the public doesn’t want massive development on Banning Ranch.

1. Madrona Litigation:
Hills For Everyone’s et al (which includes CNPS) opening brief was filed with OC Superior Court on Dec 22, 2014. Brea/Madrona’s reply brief was issued Feb. 12; our reply to their reply is due March 16. Oral arguments are tentatively scheduled for July 10th; stay tuned to

2. Esperanza:
This project is in unincorporated land near Yorba Linda, so the County of Orange governs its land-use decisions. The OC Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the project on Jan. 14. The project is scheduled before the OC Board of Supervisors, March 10 at 9:30 AM. More info:

SADDLE CREST LITIGATION:   The Appeals Court has ’til mid-March to make its decision; no word as of newsletter deadline. Stay tuned.

Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks has developed a new pilot program: the Sustainable Development Environmental Review Committee, related to the existing GreenVision Coalition. It is an endorsement program to support appropriate infill development that meets FHBP’s conservation goals. Developers must meet six criteria to be considered for endorsement. See, which includes a map of areas suitable for infill–and conversely areas not suitable, which includes all OC reserve lands and lands that are priority for preservation.

The Cleveland National Forest has received funding from the California Off-Highway Vehicle Grants Program to decommission unauthorized routes that have the greatest resource impacts. See:
for the detailed scoping letter, directions for commenting, and links to the maps —the most pertinent is TRD_UNA_Resource_Ranking_Scoping. In the Trabuco District—our backyard Santa Ana Mountains—the largest concentration of unauthorized roads having the greatest resource impacts is on and around Elsinore Peak and stretching to Wildomar OHV Area. The area’s population of Munz’ Onion (CRPR 1B.1) is the resource being impacted. A smaller concentration of unauthorized roads is off South Main Divide Road near Tenaja Station; these roads mostly impact Arroyo Toad habitat. The few other small stretches of unauthorized road are mostly found in the vicinity of established authorized routes and near inholdings, and impact various other resources.

ACTION NOW:  The 30-day scoping period ends Mar. 17. If there’s anything about the project and/or the sites that you think the FS ought to be aware of and to address in the project plan, now’s the time to tell them. See commenting directions at link above      .

Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

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