Project Spotlight: Rattlesnake Canyon

As you go along the Laguna Canyon Road heading toward Laguna Beach, just south of Willow staging area you may hike, ride or drive by one of Laguna Canyon Foundation’s many habitat restoration sites.

This site is called Rattlesnake Canyon.  Beyond where hikers and bikers are allowed to go, Laguna Canyon Foundation staff have been clearing weeds and invasive plants as a first step to restoring the land. This past Thanksgiving, the site was ready, and the crew planted more than 700 native and locally sourced plants.

By restoring this beautiful canyon to its native state, we are not only reducing fire risks as we remove dead and weedy invasive plants, we are providing critical resources for our local wildlife with native plants that ignite less easily and burn slower.

Deer have been spotting eating the tops of the plants – nature’s way of pruning – and the plants grow back fuller.

It will take about two years for these plants to become established.  About every three weeks, if there isn’t rain, crews fill up a 200-gallon water tank placed in the back of our truck.  The truck will be parked close to the site in a spot that doesn’t harm the habitat.  Large bins will be filled with water and taken out to the site where staff will fill up watering cans to hand-water each and every plant.

It is important to give the plants a good soak, allowing the roots to grow deep so as the plants grow, they won’t be dependent on human intervention such as hand-watering.

Funded by California Climate Investment Prevention Program Grant (“CalFire”) and City of Laguna Beach and in partnership with City of Laguna Beach and OC Parks, we know it takes a village to keep our wilderness wild.

Since this site is located across from Laguna Canyon Foundation headquarters, it’s easy for LCF field staff to frequently check on the growing plants. The plant palette was designed in collaboration with OC Parks Field Ecologists to include species locally sourced within 20 miles of the project. It includes coastal sage scrub and oak woodland species such as lemonade berry, toyon, elderberry, buckwheat, black sage, and coastal live oak.

So, as you head down to Big Bend from Willow on Stagecoach South, take a look but don’t go off trail. Rattlesnake Canyon lives up to its name. There are rattlesnakes out there.  There are also a whole lot of ticks.

Keeping it Wild – always a priority for Laguna Canyon Foundation staff!