Last week, Harry Huggins, a Director at Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., spoke to the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), a regional association that helps the six counties in southern California coordinate planning efforts in transportation, sustainable development, and other issues. As SCAG works on the next iteration of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) – documents that will guide our region’s future development – community members’ comments can help the agency better understand the needs of our region. More information about SCAG’s process for updating the RTP/SCS can be found here. Thanks, Harry, for voicing the need to incorporate wildlife corridors into our urban landscapes! An excerpt of his speech is below:
“Wildlife corridor awareness is blossoming at many levels of government in California, from the recent passage of SB498 to efforts at CalTrans to incorporate connectivity into new projects. I know that SCAG has already supported efforts in Los Angeles County at Liberty Canyon to create a wildlife corridor over the 101 Freeway. Kudos for your fine work, but know that this is just one of many efforts underway across the region to connect natural lands to one another. Wildlife Corridors are very important to the region and its biodiversity because they allow species to migrate, forage and expand genetic diversity. Personally, I think this is what we all want for our families.
Right now, my organization is part of a coalition that is re-establishing an important connection between two protected open spaces: the Laguna Coast and the Santa Ana Mountains. Wildlife populations suffer dramatically when they do not have enough room to roam, cannot find suitable mates, don’t have appropriate nurseries for their young, or aren’t able to repopulate nearby natural lands after an ecological disaster (like a fire or flood in their own territory). Completing this Coast to Cleveland Connection—a wildlife corridor— will correct a planning error. It may also help the region to better cope with changes caused by climate change, a concern that the State of California is addressing on many fronts.
The 2016 RTP/SCS would be stronger if it supported the enhancement of and/or protection of documented and regionally significant wildlife corridors, especially those that are impacted by infrastructure projects. Our wildlife know no geographical-political boundaries, so let’s work together to connect our landscapes.”
-Harry Huggins, Board Director, Laguna Greenbelt, Inc.