Are you taking advantage of the Charitable IRA Rollover? This is a wonderful opportunity to provide a significant gift to Laguna Canyon Foundation and #ProtectWhatYouLove while avoiding taxation on IRA distributions. Support vital habitat restoration, trail maintenance and improvements, and outdoor education for Title 1 students, all while saving money. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Here’s how it works:


  • Donors must be 70.5 years old or older
  • Funds must be transferred directly from your financial institution to Laguna Canyon Foundation (may not be transferred to donor advised funds)
  • Transfers must be from a traditional or Roth IRA
  • You can donate any amount up to $100,000 per person (couples with separate IRAs may donate up to $200,000)


This charitable rollover does count towards your IRA’s annual required minimum distribution (RMD). It’s a great opportunity to make an additional tax-free gift this year, even if you’ve maximized your annual charitable deduction.

Want to learn more? Find out details here. Interested in supporting Laguna Canyon Foundation directly from your IRA, avoiding income taxes on the gift? Tell your financial advisor or IRA administrator that you’d like to make a Charitable IRA Rollover to Laguna Canyon Foundation, or call us at (949)497-8324.


Thank you for your ongoing support!

While participating in Laguna Canyon Foundation’s education program last week, a third grade class, hiking along the Lake Trail in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, could barely keep silent as they spotted a bunny. Their hands went up as they flexed their fingers, signaling that an animal was near. They knew to whisper and keep as quiet as they could, so as not to frighten the animal and allow their fellow students to observe. The bunny stood very still, almost impossible to see, for just moments, and then scurried off behind the bushes.

From September through June each year, at several staging areas in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Laguna Canyon Foundation’s education staff hosts up to 80 field trips for Title One elementary school students. With the support of grants and our generous donors, more than 4,500 students get the opportunity to explore and learn about our wonderful open spaces every year. These children have seen many inhabitants of the canyon, including rabbits, deer, snakes, gophers, lizards, roadrunners, coyotes, and raptors and other birds.

Last week’s bunny sighting was the perfect opportunity to learn about camouflage and adaptations. The students played a “Predator and Prey” game under the 133 bridge, having fun and learning about survival, before moving on to Barbara’s Lake. Along the way the students smelled white sage and learned about the importance of coast live oak to the survival of the Native American Acjahemen tribe.

At Barbara’s Lake, now dry, they learned about the drought and water conservation. Students were asked how each of us could save water. Seeing the parched lake, the concerned students had many suggestions: take shorter showers, don’t let the water run in the bathroom and kitchen, and use any leftover drinking water for plants and pets rather than just throwing it down the drain.

Tailored per grade level, Laguna Canyon Foundation’s programs teach students about art in nature, adaptations, geology, nutrition, and, of course, conservation and preservation. In the midst of a beautiful hike, children learn to pick up trash, stay on the trails and respect the animals’ home.

After pointing out to the class many plants along the trails, the educator asked, “What is a native plant?”

The attentive students thought for a bit, then one student, Samantha, raised her hand. “It’s a plant that belongs here.”

Indeed – and that is what Laguna Canyon Foundation’s South Coast Wilderness Education Program aims to instill: a sense of belonging. Each of us – along with the plants and animals of the canyon – belong here. This is all of our land to care for, share, and pass on to the next generation.

Thank you to our generous education supporters, including the Cultural Vision Fund and the AHE/CI Trust (both in memory of Elizabeth E. Fleming), the Annenberg Foundation, the Marisla Foundation, the Schlinger Foundation, and Marcia Tilker.

Interested in supporting the South Coast Wilderness Education Program? Donate today, or email us for more information.

As we continue through this November heat wave, it’s nice to remember that we did recently have rain. Please enjoy this poem by one of our fabulous volunteers, Chuck Wright. Not only is he a poet and a photographer (enjoy his photo of a Western Fence Lizard above), he dedicates countless hours to restoring our open spaces — whatever the weather may be.

Thank you, Chuck.



the busy operator or robot
“Please hold”
and then you wait and wait and wait

nature has been put
“on hold”

no water
no dew
no moisture

and then last week it came
glorious rain

.3 on an inch in LCWP
on the north facing slope
barbara’s lake hill

restoration site

i gape in wonder &
like it is supposed to be GREEN

bryophytes galore
mosses green & plump
and ferns with fronds at
least an inch long

oh i
hope the pause
of the “please
will be no
let there be
green green green

Laguna Canyon Foundation is excited to announce that it has received a $50,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation to support the South Coast Wilderness Education Program. The SCWEP provides enriching opportunities for local students at underperforming schools to experience the wilderness in an increasingly urban world.

“We are honored to have been selected for this highly prestigious grant, and are thrilled to have secured funding for this year’s South Coast Wilderness Education Program,” said Hallie Jones, Executive Director of Laguna Canyon Foundation. “This grant will allow us to bring up to 5,000 students into the wilderness over the 2016-17 school year, instilling a love of the open space and fostering the next generation of environmental stewards.”

Many children growing up in some of Orange County’s urban communities rarely have a chance to be surrounded by nature. This is particularly true for students enrolled in elementary and secondary schools that receive Part A, Title I (“Title I”) federal financial assistance, which often lack the resources needed to organize extracurricular activities or field trips. LCF’s South Coast Wilderness Education Program focuses on partnering with these schools to provide free outdoor education field trips, including bus transportation. The program is an integral part of LCF’s core mission of preserving, protecting, enhancing and promoting the 22,000 acres of South Coast Wilderness located in Orange County, ensuring this wonderful community resource continues to provide a valuable refuge for urban dwellers seeking natural beauty and solitude.

About the Annenberg Foundation

The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. Since 1989, it has generously funded programs in education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic and community life; health and human services; and animal services and the environment. In addition, the Foundation and its Board of Directors are directly involved in the community with innovative projects that further its mission of advancing a better tomorrow through visionary leadership today. Among them are Annenberg Alchemy, Annenberg Learner, Annenberg Space for Photography, Explore, GroW@Annenberg and the Metabolic Studio. The Foundation encourages the development of effective ways to communicate by sharing ideas and knowledge.

After an intense hiring search and interview process, Laguna Canyon Foundation is proud to welcome our new Restoration Coordinator, Josie Bennett! Josie will be working closely with Restoration Program Director Alan Kaufmann, doing everything from jumping in on hands-on restoration work at the DeWitt property and leading volunteer restoration days to assisting with grant applications and attending important city planning meetings.

Josie is a field biologist with experience implementing habitat restoration and monitoring at various sites in Orange County. She has expertise in our local natural history including plants, plant communities, insects, amphibians, reptiles and birds. Prior to joining Laguna Canyon Foundation, she worked for the Irvine Ranch Conservancy and the Natural Resource Management department of California State Parks in Orange County. Josie received a BS in Biological Sciences with an emphasis on Ecology and Environment from California State University, Long Beach. She is certified through the National Association for Interpretation as a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG).

Already Josie has made a great impact, helping us with a corporate stewardship day, digging in on restoration planning and truly pitching in where we need her. Her wealth of biological expertise and invaluable experience in restoring local habitats are matched only by her enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute to LCF’s work. Join us in welcoming Josie to the LCF team!

It’s October – and though the summer heat hasn’t quite departed yet, we at Laguna Canyon Foundation are turning our sights towards cooler weather and our most active season. From more frequent hikes taking advantage of mild California autumns and winters, to an intensive trial maintenance and improvement schedule, to restoration work and preparation for the planting season, there’s a lot to look forward to in the upcoming months!

October also marks the return of our monthly Keep It Wild volunteer days. Keep It Wild days occur on the third Saturday of each month from October to May, with simultaneous projects in both Aliso and Wood Canyons and Laguna Coast Wilderness Parks. Keep It Wild volunteers work side-by-side with OC Parks rangers and Laguna Canyon Foundation staff to remove invasive species, plant new plants, brush “social” (unauthorized) trails, and maintain existing trails. These are one-time events that do not require orientation or advance training – just register online and join us for a fun, fulfilling morning out in our beautiful parks!

Click on the links below to register for an upcoming Keep It Wild day:

Aliso and Wood Canyons

Laguna Coast

You can also join us for a Nursery Plant Propagation and Care Day for another great way to contribute to LCF without an ongoing volunteer commitment. Held in our Willow plant nursery, nursery volunteers may collect seeds, sow seeds in flats, sterilize plant containers and equipment and/or help maintain the facilities.

Register for an upcoming nursery day below:

Thanks to all our volunteers, and remember, #KeepItWild!

Have you considered remembering Laguna Canyon Foundation in your estate? A planned gift is a wonderful way to establish your legacy and ensure the continued success of Laguna Canyon Foundation’s mission. We rely on the generosity of our donors to accomplish our work.

Laguna Canyon Foundation is dedicated to preserving, protecting, enhancing and promoting the South Coast Wilderness – a network of open space that includes Laguna Coast Wilderness Park & Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park in Orange County, California. Over our 25 year history, we have: 

  • Been instrumental in saving the 22,000 acres of the South Coast Wilderness from development and ensuring the land was put under permanent protection.
  • Partnered with the County of Orange and our generous donors to build the James and Rosemary Nix Nature Center, winner of the National Association for Interpretation Award for Interpretive Media, which has offered interactive exhibits, a painter’s pier, and a meeting place in the heart of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park since 2006.
  • Expanded our education program from serving 522 students from two Title 1 schools during the program’s first year in 2007-08 to serving 3380 students from eleven Title 1 schools during the 2015-16 school year.
  • Completed work on over 100 acres of habitat within the South Coast Wilderness and its surrounding area since our habitat restoration program’s launch in 2011.
  • Offered a variety of ways for residents and visitors alike to explore and become familiar with their public lands with approximately 30 public programs, including multiple volunteer days, provided every month. Diverse volunteer opportunities allow residents to strengthen connections to both the land and the community while pursuing their own talents and interests.

We’re excited to look ahead to our future, and we invite you to help support the great projects we have planned. A charitable bequest to Laguna Canyon Foundation will ensure the conservation of our open space for generations to come, while protecting your own family’s financial future. Your gift to the wilderness parks tells the world that open space is important to you. With your support, we can educate, maintain, and support the many uses of the park in perpetuity.

Contact us at (949) 497-8324 to learn more about leaving a legacy gift for Laguna Canyon Foundation.


Is the thought of planned giving leaving you feeling overwhelmed? LCF is a co-sponsor of two financial and charitable gift planning workshops presented by the nonprofit FEELincontrol. The “It’s Your Money” and “It’s Your Estate” workshops, now in their 23rd year, provide resources and information for seniors to make confident financial, estate and charitable decisions today for the future. The workshops’ purpose is to educate you to benefit you first, family second, and your favorite charity third.  The workshops are free and informational only (no attempts to sell insurance or solicit donations) – click here for the current workshop schedule!

This year’s trail season is over, and the numbers are in – we had an amazing season!  A BIG thank you to all those who came out for volunteer days, helped to spread the word, and/or supported this program in other ways, including our TrailMix sponsors! We couldn’t do it without all of you.

Some highlights of this season included:

  • Clearing brush along the lower 2 miles of the Emerald Canyon Trail
  • Completing the reclamation of two unauthorized trails in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
  • Continuing work on the Five Oaks trail at Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, including realigning some turns and building a retaining wall under one of the namesake oaks
  • Overhauling the top of Mentally Sensitive
  • Dramatically improving the drainage on Stairsteps and Old Emerald Canyon Trail
  • Completing the 0.16 mile reroute at the top of Laguna Ridge Trail

Here are the stats for this season’s accomplishments:

Number of Volunteer Events: 58 Over twice last season’s total!
Total number of Event Hours: 200 Over twice last season’s total!
Unique Volunteers: 171 Over FOUR TIMES last season’s total!
Number of Trails Worked On: 13
Total Volunteer Hours: 1201 Over twice last season’s total!
Total Hours of Trail Work (including LCF staff) 1700 Over twice last season’s total!
 Decompaction and Seeding, sqft 3000
Erosion Control Wattles Installed, linear ft 200
Naturalization, sqft 2000
Plants planted/transplanted 130
Erosion Control Features (Dips & Drains): 85 Over FOUR TIMES last season’s total!
Insloped Turns 12 Over twice last season’s total!
Switchbacks 2
Retaining Wall, block, sq ft 16
Retaining Wall, rammed earth, sq ft 150
Retaining Wall, rock, sqft 30
Retaining Wall, total, sqft 196
Tread Armored, block, linear ft 90
Tread repaired, linear ft 250
Tread, New, Constructed, linear ft 1700

In short, we crushed it!

1,200 hours of volunteer work—according to how the federal government values volunteer work, that’s a value of over $30,000! Of course, you can’t really put a dollar amount on the true value of the work we have done, when you consider the values to the trail users’ experiences, to the plants and animals whose habitat has been protected, and to the relationships that have been built.

Interested in joining us for trail season in the fall? Email Alan to join our trail volunteer email list and get involved!

We’re looking for a new Restoration Coordinator! Read on to learn more and how to apply.


Core Responsibilities:

  • Conduct field work in support of new and ongoing habitat restoration projects, including:
    • Assist with obtaining, propagating and installing plant propagules
    • Identify and manage non-native plant populations through a combination of herbicide application, hand-pulling, mowing, and mulching
    • Install, monitor and maintain irrigation systems
    • Make monthly and quarterly site observations and submit reports
    • Assist with annual vegetation monitoring and photo documentation
  • Project management and contractor communication

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Coordinate restoration and nursery-related volunteer efforts
    • Develop and implement a weed management team to address emergent weed issues in the South Coast Wilderness
    • Coordinate with OC Parks to plan and implement regular volunteer restoration events
    • Coordinate with the Volunteer Nursery Manager to plan and implement the LCF Nursery program, including two volunteer events per month
  • Assist with preparation of project reporting and grant applications
    • Write copy for portions of project reports, grant applications and other documents
    • Prepare maps and other exhibits using GoogleEarth Pro and other mapping, image management and publishing software
  • Other duties as assigned


  • Bachelor’s degree in ecology or related field
  • 1 year minimum experience in field biology, habitat restoration or related field
  • Familiarity with or ability to quickly learn to identify native and non-native plants
  • Familiarity and experience with use of handheld GPS units and mapping software
  • Has or can obtain Certified Pesticide Applicator license
  • Basic computer literacy and the ability to quickly learn new computer programs
  • Excellent interpersonal and verbal and written communications skills
  • Passionate about Laguna Canyon Foundation’s mission
  • Highly-motivated and a proven self-starter with the ability to work independently
  • Ability and willingness to work regular weekend hours and evening hours as necessary
  • Access to a reliable vehicle, valid driver’s license and required insurance coverage, and willingness to use vehicle for work purposes (mileage reimbursement available)
  • Candidate must be able to perform the Essential Functions of this position with or without reasonable accommodations (see below)

The ideal candidate may also have:

  • Master’s degree in the Biological Sciences
  • 3 or more years experience in field biology, habitat restoration or related field
  • Extensive experience working outdoors in all conditions
  • Experience leading field-based volunteer events
  • Experience in plant propagation
  • Familiarity with local environmental agencies and regulations

Salary and Benefits:

  • $35,000-$40,000 annually
  • Health and dental insurance, and retirement benefits

Additional Information:

  • Start date is September 1-September 15, 2016
  • Please send resume and cover letter to, or hard copies to: Alan Kaufmann, Laguna Canyon Foundation, PO Box 4895, Laguna Beach CA 92652

Essential Functions

The person in this position:

  • Constantly works in outdoors in a wide range of weather conditions.
  • Constantly traverses off-trail over rough terrain and steep slopes, sometimes through thick vegetation.
  • Frequently lifts and carries loads up to 25 pounds and occasionally lifts loads up to 50 pounds.
  • Frequently positions self close to the ground in order to pull weeds, fix irrigation lines, etc.
  • Frequently grips and manipulates hand tools such as shovels, picks, loppers, wrenches, hammers, etc.
  • Constantly exchanges information both verbally and in written form with supervisor, co-workers, and others.
  • Remains in a stationary position for up to 30% of the time.


LCF was humbled and gratified to receive a $250,000 check from the estate of Jim and Rosemary Nix last week. The Nixes were some of Laguna Canyon Foundation’s biggest supporters during their lifetimes. In 2000, they pledged $500,000 to LCF toward their dream of building a nature center in Laguna Coast Wilderness park. Their vision became reality when the James and Rosemary Nix Nature Center opened in 2006. Jim and Rosemary made many other generous donations to LCF over the years, including funding for the monument signs at park staging areas. We are honored and forever grateful for their ongoing support, enthusiasm, and generosity.

Many members of LCF’s staff and board, as well as OC Parks staff, worked closely with the Nixes, and all remember them fondly. According to those who knew them, “Jim and Rosemary were such incredibly special and generous people and their legacies shine bright…” “They were so genuine, and interested in LCF and the wilderness parks…” “The Nix Nature Center is a fitting reflection of their interest and commitment. It was my joy to know them.” “[Jim and Rosemary] were both so hands-on and a delight to be with. Those experiences will continue to be some of my favorites for the rest of my life.”

The Nix Nature Center has won multiple awards, including:

AIA California Council Merit Award
American Concrete Institute Award
AIA Orange County, Award of Excellence
AIA San Diego Honor Award

LCF plans to use the Nixes’ legacy gift as the seed money for an endowment – a longtime dream of the organization, and an important step towards long-term financial security and sustainability. Please contact us if you are interested in contributing to the Laguna Canyon Foundation endowment principal or setting up a legacy gift to Laguna Canyon Foundation.