Land Preservation in Orange County
The Measure M2 Freeway Environmental Mitigation Program allocates funds to acquire land and fund habitat restoration projects in exchange for streamlined project approvals for the 13 M2 freeway improvement projects. Acquired properties are purchased and permanently preserved as open space. Funded restoration projects restore preserved open space lands to their native habitat and include the removal of invasive plant species.
In November 2010, the Board allocated $42 million to purchase open space in Orange County during the first round of funding. To date, OCTA has acquired more than 1300 acres in Brea, Laguna Beach, Silverado Canyon, and Trabuco Canyon. Approximately $2.3 million remains for additional acquisitions during this first round of funding.
Since 2010, a total of 11 restoration projects have been funded throughout Orange County. Approximately $10 million has been allocated to restore about 400 acres of open space land.
Additional funds for acquisitions and restoration will be available subsequent to the completion of the current expenditure. Available funds will be dependent on the sales tax revenue stream in the future.
OCTA is currently preparing the final Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP), which is a state and federal process to protect threatened and endangered species. It also requires OCTA to provide funding for the long term management of the properties.The final NCCP/HCP is planned to be completed in late 2015.
In conjunction with the NCCP/HCP, Resources Management Plans (RMP) are being developed for each acquired Preserve. These plans will outline how the Preserves are protected, how they will be managed, and also will address public access. RMPs for Ferber Ranch, O’Neill Oaks, Saddle Creek South, and Hafen are expected to be available for public review in late summer 2015