Laguna Ridge Restoration
Improving trail sustainability and restoring damage from erosion and wildfire in the Laguna Coast Wilderness.
In 2015, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park staff asked Laguna Canyon Foundation to propose a solution to the serious erosion problem occurring near the top of the iconic Laguna Ridge Trail. Due to dramatically increased use over the last two decades, this steep, fall-line section of the trail had widened from a narrow dirt singletrack to a boulder field over 30 feet wide in places, and was continuing to widen.
Working closely with them, we identified an alignment to reroute the trail off the ridgetop to reduce the maximum grade and create a trail that could be maintained in perpetuity. We also committed to restoring the old trail alignment to native habitat to halt continuing erosion and habitat fragmentation.
With the help of our dedicated trail stewardship volunteers, we constructed the reroute during the 2015-2016 season. We transplanted over 100 native bunchgrasses as part of this process.
In the summer of 2016, a wildfire burned approximately 50 acres, including much of the area that the newly-completed reroute ran through. As part of the fire suppression activities, a dozer line was constructed on the next ridge north of the trail.
Laguna Canyon Foundation obtained generous grant funding from the Marisla Foundation and the S. L. Gimbel Foundation to support erosion control, weed management, and revegetation efforts along the former trail alignment and the dozer scar. With the help of the Orange County Conservation Corps, we installed 2000 feet of erosion control wattles, planted over 500 native shrubs and grasses, and distributed over 1000 cactus pads in these areas in the early months of 2017, and hand-watered the plants throughout the following summer. In the fall of 2017, we will install additional container plants and spread native seed to help these areas fill in and return to healthy wildlife habitat.