Actually LESS than one week! Join Laguna Canyon Foundation and the Orange County Community Foundation next Wednesday and Thursday, April 27th and 28th, for 30 hours in an effort to super-charge local giving. Donate online at our i♥oc page! Donating makes us eligible for exciting prizes, including:

Club 1,000The first nonprofit to receive a single donation of $1,000 or more (early birds, set your alarms!)
Mega Multiplier Donor ChallengeNonprofit that receives the most unique donors overall
50/50 ChallengeThe first nonprofit to receive 50 unique donations of $50 or more

And more!

Plus, just donating to LCF gives us access to the Grow the Good Bonus Pool! All participating nonprofits receive a portion of the $400,000 bonus pool – and the more money we raise, the bigger our “slice of the pie” is.

LCF relies on support from our donors. With your help, we:

• Restore critical wildlife habitat
• Maintain and improve trails
• Provide free standards-based field trips for local schools and underprivileged students from surrounding cities
• Introduce people to the open space through a variety of free hikes and other public programs, from introductory mountain biking to wildflower hikes and nature photography

We are grateful for our supporters each and every day. Whether you’re a major donor, a longterm volunteer, or an avid hiker or mountain biker who loves our trails and open space, LCF is for you! Join us next Wednesday and Thursday and help us Keep It Wild by donating on Giving Day!

Remember, all donations are tax-deductible and go directly to LCF programs. Our donation page will go “live” at 6 am April 27th – all donations must be made during the 30-hour Giving Day, 6 am April 27th – noon April 28th.

Remember to share our campaign on Twitter and Facebook and help us win the Mega Multiplier Donor Challenge! Just copy and paste any of the following:

• #iheartoc Giving Day starts April 27th! Join me and donate to #LagunaCanyonFoundation:

• #GiveWhereYourHeartLives April 27-28! #KeepItWild with Laguna Canyon Foundation!

• Help your favorite charity earn prizes on #iheartoc Giving Day April 27-28! #KeepItWild with

And join us 6 am April 27th – noon April 28th for 30 hours of giving!

Change is in the air at Laguna Canyon Foundation! After an intense talent search and interview process, we’re excited to announce the hiring of our new Outreach Manager, Paula Olson! Paula will be overseeing our education and volunteer programs, leading hikes, writing grants, and, as all of us do, helping out with whatever needs to be done. Paula is a longtime Laguna local and a certified Master Gardener and has a wealth of nonprofit experience, most recently with Western Growers trade association. She is enthusiastic about outreach and volunteering, and we’re excited to have her on board.

Paula will be joining our team just in time – after over six years with LCF, our Education Coordinator and interim Volunteer Coordinator, Jordan Van Durme, has been hired as an RN at Huntington Memorial Hospital Emergency Department! Jordan has worked hard to complete his nursing program while still doing an amazing amount of work for LCF – everything from personally taking classes on field trips and leading volunteer orientations to the detailed work of scheduling, communication, and administration – and while we’re sad to see him go, we’re all very happy for him and proud of all he’s accomplished. Jordan will be staying on through the first half of April to help Paula get settled and gradually hand over the reins before Paula begins full-time mid-April.

Jordan promises to continue to be a part of the LCF family, and he’ll be around to assist with larger projects and act as a resource as needed (luckily for all of us)! Join us in congratulating both Jordan and Paula on their new positions, and welcoming Paula to the LCF team.

Laguna Canyon Foundation is thrilled to announce our participation in the second annual i❤oc Giving Day! Join us from 6 am on April 27 to noon on April 28, 2016 to “Give Where Your Heart Lives” and celebrate and support Orange County nonprofits.

i❤oc is a thirty-hour online giving day hosted by the Orange County Community Foundation that brings together over 400 participating nonprofits – including Laguna Canyon Foundation! Show your love by supporting us on April 27th and 28th through our i❤oc website (link coming soon). Your donation will provide vital support to Laguna Canyon Foundation’s programs, including:

  • Our education program, which offers FREE standards-based nature programs to thousands of students from eleven Orange County Title 1 schools
  • Our trails program, which works hand in hand with Orange County Parks staff to improve and maintain our seventy-mile network of trails in Laguna Coast and Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Parks
  • Our volunteer program, which served 350,000 park visitors last year over nearly 7,000 volunteer hours, and offers approximately thirty free public programs per month to Orange County residents and visitors alike

All donations through i❤oc are tax-deductible, and your donation goes directly to Laguna Canyon Foundation. Plus, OCCF offers a bonus pool providing a percentage match of all donations made – and donating to LCF through the i❤oc website on Giving Day gives us a chance to win additional prizes of up to $5,000!

Visit the i❤oc website for more information, and keep watching the LCF blog and Facebook page for our Giving Day website link and more information on prizes, how to participate, and easy ways to spread the word!

Since 2008, Laguna Canyon Foundation has partnered with Aliso Viejo’s Soka University of America to offer student internships in the spring and fall. While internships are offered in a variety of roles, including work in the Native Plant Nursery and the LCF offices, most of the internships offered focus on restoration, allowing students to gain firsthand experience in environmental fieldwork and habitat conservation.

LCF’s Spring 2016 restoration interns will be taking part in their first restoration activity this weekend. Under the supervision of LCF Restoration Coordinator Matthew Sutton, they will be removing Sahara mustard plants from Park Avenue in the City of Laguna Beach. Sahara mustard is an extremely invasive, non-native species of mustard. It grows quickly, crowding out native plants, and is self-pollinating, with the largest plants producing up to 16,000 seeds each season. The photos below show the before and after of Sahara mustard invasion in the Mojave desert. The “before” picture (on the left) shows the original native creosote and desert dandelion, while the “after” picture (on the right) shows the bleaker, less diverse landscape of creosote overgrown by Sahara mustard.

Sahara mustard is already widespread throughout the southwestern desert regions of the United States and Mexico, but it’s only recently been introduced to Laguna Canyon. Laguna Canyon Foundation’s goal is to eliminate the first small, introductory pockets of Sahara mustard before it gains a foothold in our canyons and threatens to overrun native species and transform fragile, diverse native habitat into a sea of dry, flammable Sahara mustard.

Past restoration activities with Soka interns have been very successful, including last fall’s project working on restoration and native plantings at Aliso Creek. Welcome to all our new interns – we’re glad to have you on board!



Photos by Darren Sandquist, a biology professor at Cal State Fullerton. One photo shows the bleak contrast of creosote (the dominant shrub) interspersed and overgrown by Sahara mustard, whereas the other photo shows Mojave Desert with creosote and a native wildflower.

After months of work and planning with the Laguna Beach City Council, Laguna Canyon Foundation is excited to announce that our lease of the DeWitt House on Laguna Canyon Road has been approved!

The City acquired the DeWitt property in 1990 through the California Wildlife, Coastal, and Park Land Conservation Act, and LCF has been doing restoration work there since 2014. Heavy rainfall in 2010 exposed a debris field on the property, uphill of the house. The debris was the result of 20 years of garbage burning by residents back in the 1950s and 1960s. After the waste was removed, the City hired LCF to restore the property to its previous state. While the remediation is complete, LCF continues to work on restoration and monitoring at the site.

The house on the property is unoccupied and in need of repairs, but now that the lease has been signed, we’ll be starting the planning process for the restoration and renovation of the house. The renovated house will serve as LCF’s offices – actually located in the canyons for the first time in its history. Other plans for the property include a new native plant nursery, landscaping using native plants, and an outdoor area for public programs. It’ll take a lot of time and work to get there, but we’re very excited to be moving closer to the canyons and the open space we’re committed to protecting!

This month’s Keep It Wild volunteer day, co-hosted by Laguna Canyon Foundation and OC Parks, must have broken a record for attendance with 62 volunteers participating! In fact, we had so many participants that we had to divide the event into two projects to maximize the effectiveness of our generous labor force.

One group of 23 volunteers helped break up and reseed an old, unauthorized trail in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. This was arduous, challenging work, but everyone rose to the occasion. All of the volunteers carried tools or 6-foot wattles up this steep canyon trail. One crew dug up 1300 feet of trail using only picks. Once the packed soil was loosened, other crews raked, seeded, and tamped the seeds into the soil. With a little rain, this old trail will transform into wildlife-friendly chaparral habitat.

Our other group of 38 volunteers worked on restoring part of large meadow in Laguna Canyon that has been heavily invaded by non-native grasses and other weeds. Volunteers removed weeds including mustard, hemlock, thistle, and cheeseweed. They also planted several oak trees. In the near future, we hope this weedy meadow will return to the mixture of oak woodland and coastal sage scrub habitat that existed there prior to disturbances such as cattle grazing.

This was a great demonstration of the positive collaboration between LCF and O.C. Parks. Altogether four OC Parks staff, three LCF staff, and four LCF volunteers helped to coordinate and manage these activities. We look forward to many more opportunities to work alongside community members in restoring our beautiful canyon habitats. Thank you to EVERYONE who came out and joined us!


Take a break from the hustle of the holidays, and get outside! Take a hike, get in a ride, maybe even go for a trail run and make room for an extra piece of pumpkin pie. And while you’re out in the hillsides, smelling the coastal sage and watching the birds, take a moment to remember how very lucky we are to have such incredible open space right here in crowded Orange County. And how lucky you are to be able to be in it.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy 2016 from Laguna Canyon Foundation. Feel lucky, feel blessed, and be a part of making our parks better. Give your end of year gift to Laguna Canyon Foundation today.

And remember to check our Calendar of Events and join us out on the trail!


Twenty-five years ago, a few dedicated people formed Laguna Canyon Foundation with one primary mission: to buy open space and save it from development. We’ve done an incredible job preserving land, and in fact, there are only about 350 acres remaining to add to our greenbelt.

Now, in 2015, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re at a watershed moment. It’s time to expand beyond preserving the land and move into protecting it. Protecting it from what? Simple. It’s time to protect this land from being loved to death. The number of people in our parks has tripled over the last five years. People are flocking from all over the country, and in fact, from all over the globe, to ride our trails and hike in our canyon.

Once again, we need to come together to protect what we all love. To work together to enhance our parks, improve our trails, and make our coastal canyons even more beautiful. Your gift to Laguna Canyon Foundation goes a long way. In fact:

  • $5,000 will fix ¼ mile of tread
  • $1,000 will plant 100 coastal sage scrub plants
  • $500 brings an entire classroom of kids into the open space
  • $100 installs one grade reversal
  • $50 grows a California sagebrush from seed to mature

We hope you’ll join us this year in the fight to keep the land you love wild and pristine!


barbara's lake


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Donation Total: $50

Thanks to all of the volunteers who came out on November 21st to help us on the 5 Oaks Trail in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park!  We had a good-sized group due to the folks from 52 Hikes and Cal State Fullerton supplementing some of our usual suspects, and we got a lot of great work done, despite the very warm temperatures.

We focused on three main projects:

1) Saving Dirt: Our volunteers gathered and preserved over 70 bags of loose dirt that otherwise would have washed off the trail in the next rainstorm.  This dirt is a precious resource and will be used to reinforce the trail once the rains come.  It is dirty and unglamorous work, but so important!

5 Oak Trail

2) Trail narrowing: The trail bed was altered at the top of a steep turn in order to get water off of the trail bed and keep users on the best line.  This will improve the safety of this section of trail while also allowing us to revegetate a large, eroded, barren area on the inside of the turn.  Improving drainage here will also help arrest erosion occurring further down the trail.

5 Oak Trail

3) Saving the Oak: Right where the trail transitions from Coastal Sage Scrub into Oak Woodland is the first of the 5 Oaks Trail’s namesake trees.  Lines have developed on either side of this Oak, and downcutting due to water and user impacts are exposing its roots and threatening its survival.  In order to protect this tree, we began building a retaining wall.  When we complete this wall and backfill it with soil, the Oak’s roots will be protected from further erosion.  We installed the first two tiers of the wall and also redirected a small gully above that was dumping water into the trail, accelerating erosion.  We will continue working on this project on future volunteer days.

5 Oak Trail

All in all, it was an enjoyable and very productive day.  There is much more work to do on this and other trails in the Parks.  If you are interested in getting involved, please contact us at

Join Laguna Canyon Foundation as we celebrate 25 years of working to protect the open space we all love. We’ll be dancing to live bluegrass at the Nix Nature Center, enjoying Laguna Beach Beer Company’s Laguna Canyon Road brew, and great food! You can even win a locals only ultimate staycation at the Ranch at Laguna Beach.

Bring your kids, your friends and your family! Kids free, adults $30. Buy your tickets today!

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