Conservation Update, 2010 Jul | CEQA, Irvine Ranch Conservancy
From the Desk of Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair
CEQA STILL BEING CHALLENGED
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is the state’s principal environmental law. It gives communities the ability to participate in decisions that determine how they grow, and how to avoid adverse effects from development. It also is the basis on which the enviro community can work to preserve rare species, hence their habitat, hence the natural open space lands that hold the habitat.
CEQA requires extensive public hearings and community input on projects that affect the community and nearby natural environment. Non-enviro critics consider these procedures to be onerous and time wasting, and blame them for holding up projects that would create jobs—thus implying blame for CEQA for current economic conditions.
Several bills that in some way would exempt projects from all or part of CEQA (thereby rendering the Act meaningless) are currently before the State Legislature. CNPS’ Legislative Consultant Vern Goehring and the Conservation Program have been working, on our own and with other groups, to get our message of opposition to these proposed bills to legislators. ACTION NOW: tell your State Assemblyperson and Senator (find them at http://www.legislature.ca.gov/portzipsearch.html) that you want a strong CEQA.2
OC PARKS & IRVINE RANCH CONSERVANCY
After more than a year of negotiations, the transfer of seven designated natural open space land parcels, totaling 20,312 acres, from The Irvine Company (TIC) to OC Parks was approved by the OC Parks Commission on June 17. Final approval by the OC Board of Supervisors took placed on June 29. The land transfer has been long-planned and is a fulfillment of OC’s Central-Coastal NCCP.
Most of the acreage encompasses the foothills at the northern end of TIC lands, abutting the Trabuco District; a 172-acre portion fills a gap in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. All the many official documents (which include maps) related to the transfer are available at www.ocparks.com.
The Green Vision Coalition’s Land Transfer Steering Committee had worked with OC Parks administration since September to ensure that the transfer included:
• Enough funding: OC Parks administration is confident that the transfer includes sufficient funding to properly manage the lands.
• Preservation of the lands’ conservation values.
• Public oversight and transparency.
• A state-of-the-art management plan. See http://www.fhbp.org/projects/PDFs/Final-Q&A-on-Land-Transfer.pdf for background on the transfer and the part that Friends of Harbors Beaches & Parks/Green Vision, and the rest of the enviro community, had in it.
OC Parks Director Mark Denny’s message about the transfer:
Transferring ownership from a private corporation to the public ensures that the land will remain as protected open space.“Protected” = “special,” the land must be respected.
Educating the public to respect the land is most important, so that the public will understand what’s appropriate to do in these special places.
Each of the seven parcels has its own Habitat Management Plan. A science-based team has been formed to synthesize the seven plans into one and coordinate it with OC Parks’ Management Plan. Public hearings will be held on the synthesis process in fall 2010. ACTION NOW: enjoy your local OC Parks, and plan to participate in the upcoming hearings.