Results of Multi-Year Wildlife Camera Study in Irvine Show a Worrying Trend


Results of Multi-Year Wildlife Camera Study in Irvine Show a Worrying Trend

Laguna Woods, California – September 11, 2019 – Results of a multi-year study of activity in a wildlife corridor connecting the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park to the Cleveland National Forest are now available for public view. Since the late 1990s, progress has been made on completing the 6-mile long corridor, aimed at providing safe animal movement through the urban landscape to adjacent conservation areas in Laguna and Inland hills. This study has been done to examine how well the existing corridor is working and to identify improvements for enhanced wildlife passage. 

Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., a local environmental organization, planned and executed the study, using 21 cameras to examine wildlife movements in the Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor (also called the Irvine Wildlife Corridor and Orange County Wildlife Corridor). Data was collected by an army of dedicated volunteers over nearly two years.

The study cameras were motion-triggered and automatically took pictures and videos of animals as they passed by the cameras, day and night. The resulting data set contains thousands of photos and showed bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, rabbits, many smaller mammals, and even people. 

After data collection, Kevin Clark, Director of Biological Services for the San Diego Natural History Museum, analyzed the findings and authored a report. He presented a summary of the report Wednesday, September 11 at the Coastal Greenbelt Authority meeting in the Laguna Woods Council Chambers, along with John Foley, Board member at Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. and volunteer data collector for the project.

“Most camera studies are three to six months long, but this study has almost two years of data,” he said during the presentation. “I’m really impressed with what this group did.” 

Images revealed a variety of surprising trends, such as human use of the wildlife corridor that discouraged animal activity and a concerning lack of animals in places where they had previously been more plentiful. Mr. Clark also noted that compared to a study published in 2007 by USGS in the same area, the data show that fewer target species are now frequenting the areas near road crossings, indicating a worrying trend towards fewer animals in our fragmented urban landscape. 

The final section of the report gives a list of some low cost measures that can encourage the use of road crossings to a variety of animals.  The full report can be found and downloaded free of charge here.

To contact Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. about publishing more on this story, please fill out form below.


Wildfires and Nature’s Road Home

We need to have a little talk about wildfires and corridors.

We are well into wildfire season here in Southern California, and experts warn that our ‘new normal’ will include a longer fire season that will feature bigger, hotter, and more destructive fires. Here at Laguna Greenbelt, Inc, we can’t help but ask:  What happens to all the wild animals when wildfires occur, and how can we help them survive these terrifying events?

Just like people, many of these animals flee. Check out one serendipitous capture of fleeing animals during the Canyon Fire 2 in Anaheim Hills in 2017:

Just like people, animals need pathways of escape when fire (or another disaster) threatens their home. Animals living in an area with ample open space are lucky – when a fire comes they have many options for escaping. But, for those animals that find themselves in landscapes fragmented by development –  ‘fenced in’ by roads or other urban structures – wildlife corridors can offer important escape routes to a safe place.

Here in Orange County, this month’s Holy Fire burned over 22,000 acres in the Santa Ana Mountains, along the border of Orange and Riverside Counties. This includes part of Cleveland National Forest- the very ‘Cleveland’  referred to in the Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor, which connects these Santa Ana Mountains to the Laguna Coastal Wilderness parks. On another day, during another fire, is it possible this corridor could be the only potential escape route for our wild neighbors?

The good news is the Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor is marching towards completion. It’s a unique project because it requires putting a strip of habitat back into an area that is now highly urban. When it’s completed, animals in the Santa Ana Mountains – bobcats, coyotes, and more – will be able to travel to the coastal wilderness areas around Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Aliso Viejo, and adjacent areas. Likewise, animals that have been isolated on the coast will be able to move inland to find fresh resources and mates…not only during a disaster, but anytime.

These animals are depending on us to keep working to make the corridor a success so that they have a chance.

When there’s a fire, escaping isn’t the end of the story. For bobcats, coyotes, rabbits, and deer, a wildlife corridor also means having a way home again. Isn’t that something that everyone can get behind?

*Learn more about the progress of the Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor in urban Irvine, California at:

*Share @lagunagreenbet and @binxbobcat on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook







Civic Engagement: Forum to Discuss 133 Widening Thursday July 5

Have you heard about CalTrans’ proposal for Laguna Canyon Road? Come to a presentation by Laguna Canyon Foundation, Greg and Barbara MacGillivray, and Laguna Beach CANDO covering the overall project and its impacts on our community and canyon.

Join the meeting to get information and discuss community concerns about the impacts of the proposed project to widen highway 133.

When: Thursday, July 5th, 5 – 7 PM

Where: Susi Q Senior Center

380 3rd St, Laguna Beach


You can read about the proposed changes and their impacts on our open space here:

All public comments to CalTrans are due by July 10th!

Executive Director of Laguna Canyon Foundation, Hallie Jones, was on KX 93.5 this Sunday talking about the project and LCF’s views on the proposal: – discussion of CalTrans’ Laguna Canyon Road project starts at about 43:40 (click “play” and then click on the green bar underneath to skip ahead).



Update: Orange County Supervisors Certify West Alton Project, Receive Legal Backlash

Orange County Board of Supervisors Move Forward on West Alton

Earlier this month, Laguna Greenbelt Inc. published an Op-Ed urging Orange County Supervisors to wait to certify the Final EIR for the West Alton Project (a proposed high-density residential development on a uniquely-shaped parcel of land in Irvine).

The County ended up certifying the Final EIR. Within a few days of this development, LA Times reported that the City of Laguna Beach announced it will take legal steps to fight the County’s plan. One of their chief concerns is the potential impact this development will have on local open space areas and a segment of the Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor, which runs through the middle of this property.

The Big Picture

In spring of 2018, Great Park developer Five Point broke ground on another segment of the same corridor.  When completed, the corridor will connect the Santa Ana Mountains and the open space area around Laguna Beach, Irvine, and adjacent areas, but the whole corridor must be functional to work. The completed, functional corridor will allow wildlife (such as bobcat and other animals) and plants to move between the two larger ecosystems and help maintain the coastal parks’ ecological integrity. This corridor is not only essential for wildlife, but also for protecting the hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds that have been invested over decades into our wilderness parks and other open space.

The West Alton Project’s intensive use will bring with it human and pet noise, lights, smells, and other intrusions into the wildlife corridor, discouraging animals needing to move through the area. The County had previously agreed to designate this area as wildlife corridor, so why is it now placing land uses adjacent to the corridor that would jeopardize its success?

What Can I Do?

If you care about our wild neighbors, taking care of open space in Orange County, and wise land use choices that protect our public investments, please speak to your elected representatives about how you feel.

To submit comments about this project, please call or write your OC Supervisor and ask them to ensure that land use choices on this property will not negatively impact the wildlife corridor.

Contact Your Supervisor

Please also consider sharing this page and discussing this issue through email, social media, and word-of-mouth.



Laguna Beach To Sue County

Laguna Beach Comments on Draft EIR

Groundbreaking Central Corridor Portion

OC West Alton Project Page and EIR

Why We Need Wildlife Corridors

Imagine if your very existence, and the existence of your whole species, depended on being able to move one place to another.

Imagine if having a way to to access food, water, to move away from a threat like a flood or wild fire, meant living another day.

Imagine if you just wanted to find some romance, and nobody in your vicinity seemed like a good match.

Now, imagine if a solid concrete barrier restricted that movement.

Imagine if animals were not that different from people in their need for moving around to find the essentials, and their need for help when they got stuck.

This reprint of an LA Times article earlier this year outlines why wildlife corridors are so important. The roads that allow humans the ability to move from place to place and find the things we need to survive and thrive sometimes make it hard for animals to do the same. But there is a solution.

Read:  The Killing Fields for Mountain Lions

Some of Orange County’s animals are struggling with the same issues.