Big Bend Restoration

Restoring a Vital Wildlife Corridor


Current Status: Completed | Start Date: May 2011 | Completed: January 2017 | Project Head: Derek Ostensen

Thanks to the generous support of Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) Measure M2 Program, a 3.7-acre City-owned property in Laguna Canyon was transformed from a dirt lot into high-quality coastal sage scrub habitat and a critical wildlife corridor linking Aliso and Wood Canyons and Laguna Coast Wilderness Parks. The property was restored with native oaks, sycamores and coastal sage scrub, as well as public trails that will provide improved public access to more than 22,000 acres of adjacent open space.

“This project is another example of the tremendous conservation success of OCTA’s visionary Measure M2 Program” says Derek Ostensen, Laguna Canyon Foundation Board Member. “Across Orange County over nearly 10 years, OCTA has completed pivotal conservation land acquisitions and habitat restorations considered to be among the highest County-wide priorities by the environmental community.”

The project leveraged community support from a wide variety of partners, including donations of debris removal by Waste Management, recycling of building materials by Gregg Abel Design and Construction, and in-kind labor contributions from the Orange County Conservation Corps.

“We were happy to provide an in-kind grant for this fantastic habitat restoration and wildlife corridor project,” says Josh Volp of the Orange County Conservation Corps. “In addition, the project provided valuable job skills training for 15 at-risk young adults.”

OCTA funding provided for the habitat restoration planning, permitting and implementation. In May 2011, the City of Laguna Beach City Council voted to dedicate the 3.7-acre property for permanent preservation as part of the effort — capping a decades-long effort to preserve and restore the property which began with City biological consultant Karlin Marsh recognizing Big Bend as the most sensitive biological area in the City.

“The Big Bend property is truly an environmental and community treasure,” notes Hallie Jones, Executive Director of Laguna Canyon Foundation. “Its spectacular cliffs, abundant wildlife and close proximity to miles of wilderness trails make it an incredible natural and public resource. Laguna Canyon Foundation deeply appreciates the contributions of OCTA, the City of Laguna Beach, and the numerous companies and organizations who donated to the project.”