The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded The Trust For Public Land $11 million dollars to go towards the purchase of the Banning Ranch property. This action follows The State of California Legislature approving an $8 million dollar grant and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife also awarding $8 million dollars towards the property purchase.
Property Sales Agreement
Newport Beach’s Banning Ranch, the largest undeveloped private coastal site in Southern California, moved closer this week to becoming a prized public nature preserve, potentially in a league with Upper Newport Bay, the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and Torrey Pines State Reserve.
After more than two decades of battling development proposals for the 401-acre parcel that abuts Pacific Coast Highway, environmentalists are celebrating the Thursday, May 20, announcement that The Trust For Public Land has reached an agreement with the landowner to purchase 384 acres of the site for $97 million. “This is a big deal, we are not there yet, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been.” said Terry Welsh, who began fighting development at the site 22 years ago and is the president of the Banning Ranch Conservancy.
The next hurdle is raising the additional $20 million now needed to close the deal by the June 30, 2022, deadline. Trust officials said the $50 million already in hand — donated in 2019 by Newport Beach developer and philanthropist Frank Randall and his wife, Joann — was key in bringing the landowner to the negotiating table. Trust officials are highly confident that between public and private dollars, the additional needed funds could be obtained. The lion’s share of the remaining money is likely to come from state and federal coffers (see above). If the sale is completed, officials have estimated that it would take about two years to clean up the site and begin preparing it for public use. Ideas for that eventual use include restoration, trails and campgrounds, and is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars beyond the purchase price. The entire plan would start with a public engagement process in order to evaluate what citizens would like to see and then a formal plan would be developed.
There are many, many Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, and even Fish that are thriving on the Banning Ranch property. For a complete list of the wildlife that fall into this category please visit the Biology page of the SNBR Website.
It is very important to know there are 76 wildlife species that can be found either on the Banning Ranch Property or in the vicinity that are endangered (Federally and/or State of California), are on the State Fully Protected List, are listed as a State Species of Special Concern, and/or are on the State Species Watch List.
Please visit the Endangered Species page for the complete list of wildlife that fall into this category. There are links within this list that contain detailed information about some of the endangered species as well as which species have been observed on the property.
Coyotes are often seen and heard on the Banning Ranch property. The photo at the right was taken January 31, 2021 at 10:18 a.m. The photos above (Great Blue Heron) and below (another Coyote) were also taken on the Banning Ranch property.