Perhaps, as you’ve driven out of Laguna Canyon recently, you’ve noticed some changes along the side of the road across from the Willow Staging Area parking lot, north of the Sun Valley neighborhood. Work crews, machinery, new openings in the vegetation, big piles of wood chips, a spiffy new lodgepole fence…and what are all of those pink cones about, anyway?
All of this activity is part of the DeWitt Property Habitat Restoration Project, a collaboration of Laguna Canyon Foundation, Laguna Greenbelt and the City of Laguna Beach, funded through a River Parkways grant from the California Natural Resources Agency. This five-acre project will include the active restoration of over 1.5 acres of upland and riparian transitional habitat (including a wildflower meadow), approximately ½-mile of new trails, several interpretive signs and more.
Laguna Canyon Foundation has been working hard for the past year to prepare the site for planting. This has included a thorough site survey and development of a site master plan and restoration plan, several rounds of invasive plant and non-native tree removal, weeks of debris removal and grading (including the removal of the asphalt parking lot and fence that used to be directly across from Willow), construction of the lodgepole fence and the installation of an extensive irrigation system.
Over the past month we have installed over 3,500 container plants of over 50 different native species and 35 native trees. Another five specimen trees (installation included) were donated by Laguna Greenbelt. We have also sowed over 20 pounds of native wildflower seed in the future wildflower meadow.
Now that plant installation is largely complete, the hard work begins: caring for all of those plants for the next three years until they are established, and continuing to manage the pervasive invasive plants (including poison hemlock, giant reed, pampas grass, cape ivy, yellow flag iris, black mustard and many, many more) throughout the entire project area. During this time the trails and the interpretive signs will also be completed.
Laguna Canyon Foundation would like to thank all of our partners, including our neighbors in the Sun Valley neighborhood, Anneliese Schools, Laguna Greenbelt, BGB Design Group, the City of Laguna Beach Water Quality Department, the California Natural Resources Agency, Southern California Edison, Orange County Conservation Corps and our hard-working contractors and field technicians for the ongoing success of this project.