Laguna Canyon Foundation is thrilled to announce the funding of the Pecten Reef Habitat Restoration Project! The Pecten Reef project is being funded by a $677,400 grant through the California State Coastal Conservancy. Laguna Canyon Foundation and the Coastal Conservancy have a long history of partnership, with numerous projects funded totaling 12.5 million dollars. This total includes over $10 million towards land acquisition to preserve 310 acres of sensitive habitat and $160,000 towards designing and installing new interpretive signage in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.
The Pecten Reef project is located in the northeastern extension of Aliso and Wood Canyons, within the Aliso Creek watershed. Aliso Creek is one of the major stream systems in Orange County, running for a little under 20 miles from the foothills of the Santa Ana mountains to the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Beach. It’s one of the last remaining natural creeks in Orange County and is an important wildlife corridor that connects the mountains to the sea.
Human impacts on the creek include increased water flow, the introduction of non-native weeds, and high bacteria levels. These factors have led to the creek being added to the Clean Water Act list of impaired waters. 4.8 million dollars have already been invested in rehabilitating the creek through efforts including invasive weed control, habitat restoration, and the construction of the 2-acre Dairy Fork wetland to capture runoff water from surrounding communities.
The Pecten Reef project is in one of the most sensitive and important areas in the Aliso Creek Watershed, and contains critical habitat for sensitive, threatened, and endangered species such as the Southwestern Pond Turtle and Least Bell’s Vireo.
In addition to improving the habitat surrounding the creek, another goal of this project is to revegetate an exposed portion of Pecten Hill. Pecten Hill is made up of the limestone remains of an 18-million-year-old tropical shell reef (and is what gives Pecten Reef its name); this is in fact one of the only preserved portions of the ancient marine reef.
Our vision of this project is to create a resilient home for wildlife, help to improve water quality in Aliso Creek, protect sensitive paleontological resources, and offer hands-on stewardship events for the public.
Interested in getting a closer look at this area? Ready for some hands-on habitat restoration? Join us on the second Tuesday of the month at our Pecten Reef stewardship events! Sign up at lagunacanyon.org/activities.