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Spotlight on OCTA’s Environmental Stewardship, Conservation and Restoration

Around the world, people are particularly conscious of our planet this month, especially during Earth Day on April 22. Locally, OCTA champions regional environmental responsibility every day.

Orange County, home to diverse natural habitats and communities, presents environmental stewardship, conservation, and restoration opportunities for OCTA’s sustainability efforts. The following programs help protect the region’s abundant biodiversity. 

Environmental Mitigation Program
The
Environmental Mitigation Program administers funds to acquire land for preservation and fund habitat restoration projects to mitigate and offset environmental impacts of 13 freeway improvement projects. The program is part of voter-approved Measure M, also known as OC Go, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. To date, OCTA has purchased seven preserves, totaling more than 1,300 acres in Brea, Laguna Beach, Silverado Canyon, and Trabuco Canyon, and has funded 12 habitat restoration projects, totaling approximately 350 acres throughout the county. This has resulted in the protection and conservation of 13 sensitive species and their habitats. To ensure long-term management of the preserves, an endowment was established and began in 2017. 

Environmental Cleanup Program
The Environmental Cleanup Program (ECP), another OC Go program, addresses and improves the county’s overall water quality by reducing water pollution generated by transportation. The program provides funding to local jurisdictions for water quality improvement projects to support their efforts to meet Clean Water Act mandates for controlling transportation-generated pollution. It is designed to supplement rather than replace existing transportation-related water quality programs. 

ECP funds, allocated on a countywide competitive basis, are distributed based on a two-tiered grant funding approach: 

  • Tier 1 – mitigation for more visible forms of pollutants (e.g., litter and debris that collects on roadways and in storm drains before entering waterways and the ocean); which includes funding for equipment purchases and upgrades to existing catch basins and related best management practices.  
  • Tier 2 – regional, potentially multi-jurisdictional, capital-intensive projects which includes constructed wetlands, detention/infiltration basins, and bioswales. 

To date, an estimated 33 million gallons of trash have been removed or prevented from entering waterways. 

Learn more about OCTA’s environmental sustainability efforts and achievements here.

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