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Land Acquisition

Since 1990, Laguna Canyon Foundation has worked with the City of Laguna Beach, County of Orange and the State of California to purchase sections of the canyons slated for development. This land acquisition work continues today, as we piece together parcels to complete the final sections of the greenbelt.

Aliso Canyon Land Acquisition

Acquisition Date: May 2015
Size of Acquisition: 150 acres
Cost of Acquisition: $2,200,000

The purchase of the approximately 150-acre Aliso Canyon property builds on decades of strategic conservation acquisitions which have consolidated thousands of acres of sensitive habitat and public land holdings in coastal Orange County. The property was one of the last private open space properties bordering Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, and its acquisition preserves critical habitat, special-status species, and a vital wildlife corridor within the South Coast Wilderness. Notably, acquisition of the Aliso Canyon property builds on two recent acquisitions of significant importance to the South Coast Wilderness and regional natural resource values. After years of effort, the contiguous 96-acre Pacific Triangle and 75-acre Driftwood Estates properties were preserved in 2010 and 2011, resulting in the preservation of an array of special-status species and sensitive plant communities. Purchase of the Aliso Canyon property greatly expands the benefits of these two previous acquisitions and completes the “missing link” of a long-coveted coastal habitat and wildlife linkage to Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and the broader 22,000-acre South Coast Wilderness. The property was purchased by the Orange County Transportation Authority under its Measure M2 Environmental Program, in coordination with Laguna Canyon Foundation, the City of Laguna Beach, and wildlife agencies.

McGehee Land Acquisition

Acquisition Date: May 2013
Size of Acquisition: 56 acres
Cost of Acquisition: $1,500,000

Acquisition of the 56-acre McGehee property protects a major portion of spectacularly scenic Rim Rock Canyon, home to a biodiverse range of flora and fauna and some of Laguna Beach’s most picturesque geological formations.

Utilizing a State Coastal Conservancy grant, Laguna Canyon Foundation facilitated purchase of this large wilderness parcel which extends north-south from Temple Hills Drive to Old Top of the World Road and west to Morningside Drive in Rim Rock Canyon. The property was previously proposed for residential estate development. Instead, the land will be owned by the City of Laguna Beach and managed by OC Parks as part of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, whose 4,500 acres of public land and associated trails are contiguous to the property.

McGraw Land Acquisition

Acquisition Date: May 2012
Size of Acquisition: 4 acres
Cost of Acquisition: $325,000

Pristine oak woodlands and coastal sage scrub habitat in the biodiverse Big Bend area are permanently preserved through a four-acre acquisition.

Excellent habitat values and a prominent hillside location atop the scenic Big Bend area made the McGraw property a priority for acquisition. The property is located contiguous to Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and overlooks adjacent Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. The property features excellent coastal sage scrub and oak woodlands habitat and drains to several key watercourses. The property owner had been processing plans to develop the property when Laguna Canyon Foundation initiated its acquisition with support from a State Coastal Conservancy grant. Acquisition of the McGraw property protects open space viewsheds and vital habitat, while preventing development that would fragment wildlife movement and habitat connectivity.

Wainwright Land Acquisition

Acquisition Date: May 2005
Size of Acquisition: 32 acres
Cost of Acquisition: $300,000

Laguna Canyon Foundation was thrilled to lead the successful preservation of one of Orange County’s most scenic and biologically important wilderness areas – Big Bend. The iconic cliffs of Big Bend have inspired plein air painters for more than 100 years.

Magnificent sandstone and granite cliffs comprise the ridgeline, linking Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. More than 30 special status plant and wildlife species occupy the cliffs on the northern boundary of the 32-acre property, including a succulent species that only exists in its namesake Laguna Beach: Laguna Beach dudleya. Completing the acquisition was complicated by the landowners living in a small village in Germany, but Laguna Canyon Foundation and its partner, The Conservation Fund, successfully navigated through the German consulate to close the escrow. The lower drainages of the property support a remarkable assortment of rare riparian and transitional zone flora, including ferns rarely seen in Orange County.

Chao Land Acquisition

Acquisition Date: May 2007
Size of Acquisition: 60 acres
Cost of Acquisition: $1,500,000

Comprising some of the most important habitat, public trail connections, rare geologic features and scenic vistas in the wilderness park system, the 60-acre Chao acquisition protects a crucial open space property prioritized for preservation since the 1980s.

The property supports high-quality coastal sage scrub and a variety of sensitive flora and fauna, including threatened coastal California gnatcatcher. Notably, preservation of the Chao property solves a “missing link” for coastal access and connects thousands of acres of inland wilderness and trails to within one mile of the coast.

Bunn-Moore Land Acquisition

Acquisition Date: May 2011
Size of Acquisition: 4.5 acres
Cost of Acquisition: $675,000

Acquisition of the 4.5-acre Bunn-Moore property protected a vital creek tributary to nearby Laguna Canyon Creek. The property also features a spectacular assortment of sandstone cliffs, caves and boulders which support a wide range of microhabitats.

Raptors nest in the property’s precipices and catch updrafts from the incoming coastal breeze. The property was planned for development of a large estate home which would have impacted sensitive habitat. Notably, preservation of the Bunn-Moore property completes the final public access connection linking thousands of acres of wilderness to Canyon Acres Drive, within a mile distance of the coast.