For more than a century years, residents and visitors have been inspired by the beauty of the Laguna Coast. Plein air artists have come for decades to capture this beauty. The landscape, however, could have been very different than it is today but for the ongoing and determined work of conservation organizations and the generosity of numerous landowners.
Today more than 22,000 acres of coastal canyons are protected through the regional park system and the Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan efforts. Predominantly coastal sage scrub, these canyons are dotted with oak and sycamore woodlands and offer stunning panoramic views from scenic vistas. The lands are also home to native valley grasslands and maritime chaparral, as well as rocky outcroppings.
Also known as the Laguna Greenbelt, or the South Coast Wilderness system of parks and preserves, the protected open spaces conserve important and rare species including the long-tailed weasel, California Gnatcatcher and Orange-Throated Whiptail. The parkland is comprised of protected lands under varying ownerships including: Aliso and Wood Canyons, Crystal Cove State Park, City of Irvine Open Space and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
Because of advances in understanding the principles of conservation biology, we now know that our habitat lands (wilderness and natural parks) must all be connected to ensure the survival of our wildlife and rare plant species. Just like us, animals need room to roam, to safely raise their young, find food, shelter, water and suitable mates. Efforts are underway to ensure a connection between the Laguna Coast and the Cleveland National Forest.