Story submitted by the Laguna Canyon Foundation:
A major portion of Rim Rock Canyon and one of the most spectacularly scenic properties in Laguna Beach was preserved with the recent acquisition of the 56-acre “McGehee” property. Utilizing a State Coastal Conservancy grant from the 2000 bond measure, Proposition 12, the Laguna Canyon Foundation-facilitated purchase of the large wilderness parcel will preserve sensitive habitat and wildlife and safeguard a picturesque canyon of soaring cliffs and jagged ravines.
The property extends from Temple Hills Drive to Old Top of the World Road and west to Morningside Drive in Rim Rock Canyon. Owned by longtime Laguna residents, the McGehee family, the property was previously proposed for residential estate development. The land will be owned by the City of Laguna Beach and managed by OC Parks as part of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, whose 4,000+ acres of public land are contiguous to the property.
"It has been a pleasure to work with the McGehee family and we are grateful for their willingness to preserve this vital wilderness property,” said Derek Ostensen, President of Laguna Canyon Foundation. “The property has been a top-priority acquisition for many years and we are thrilled to see it permanently preserved.”
Since 2002, Proposition 12 has provided grant funding for the purchase of more than 310 acres of open space at a cost of approximately $10,400,000. The effort has been anchored by a partnership between the State Coastal Conservancy, City of Laguna Beach, Laguna Canyon Foundation, OC Parks and The Conservation Fund. The purchases have provided crucial connecting acreage for the wilderness parks and have yielded significant public access, habitat, wildlife, and scenic viewshed benefits.
“The collaborative efforts to acquire and preserve open space are amazing! The McGehee acquisition is another success for the Laguna Beach community and the wilderness park system. Says John Pietig, Laguna Beach City Manager.
“We are pleased to have helped our local partners achieve their goal of acquiring and permanently protecting this land”, said Joan Cardellino, the Coastal Conservancy’s South Coast Program Manager. “ It’s a real gem, featuring a key link in the regional trail network, outstanding coastal vistas, and important plant and wildlife habitat.”
Acquisition of the McGehee property preserves one of the last remaining large parcels of developable land in Laguna Beach. Over the past 10 years, Laguna Canyon Foundation and the Prop 12 partners have acquired 11 other large properties for addition to the public wilderness.
"We’re so proud of these partnerships and how they’ve enabled us to preserve so much open space for Orange County residents. We will continue to focus on acquiring remaining open space parcels, but going forward it’s also important that we work together as a community to maintain the land that we have, restoring damaged and destroyed habitat, and educating the public on this incredible resource,” said Max Borella, Executive Director of the Foundation.