Octa's transportation blog

Natural Habitat Returns on Nearly 300 Acres in Orange County Foothills

Working in partnership with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy and OC Parks, OCTA helped complete the restoration of nearly 300 acres of natural habitat in the foothills of Orange County.

OCTA funded 84 acres of the 293-acre restoration through OC Go, also known as Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.

The project is the latest of a dozen OCTA restoration projects to obtain final approvals from state and federal wildlife agencies.

The restored land, in the Bee Flat Canyon area of OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon, is east of Orange near Modjeska Canyon. For years, the land was choked with invasive weeds that threatened the natural habit.

Led by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, the restoration project took nearly a decade as invasive weeds such as black mustard and milk thistle were gradually removed and replaced with native plant life including coastal sage scrub, oak woodlands, chaparral and native grasslands.

“This is another fantastic example of how OCTA has brought a balanced approach to improving transportation in Orange County while also protecting the valuable natural resources that make it such a special place to live,” said OCTA Chairman Steve Jones, also the Mayor of Garden Grove.

OC Go includes an Environmental Freeway Mitigation Program that helps offset the potential adverse effects of expanding Orange County’s freeways.

The program helps expedite freeway projects while protecting the environment. OCTA has purchased from willing sellers more than 1,300 acres of open space – land that otherwise could have been developed – to protect it in its natural state forever.

The properties are in Trabuco Canyon, Silverado Canyon, Brea and Laguna Beach.

The environmental program also includes approximately $10 million for 12 habitat restoration projects, such as the one at Bee Flat Canyon, totaling more than 350 acres.

To date, the wildlife regulatory agencies have signed off on several of the restoration projects, signifying the continued success of the program as well as the partnership that has been forged with the environmental community.

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