In 2005, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks coordinated a coalition of environmental groups to negotiate a comprehensive mitigation program for the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), as it considered renewing its 1/2-cent sales tax measure called Measure M. Hills For Everyone was one of 30+ conservation and community groups that supported this concept and ultimately the measure. The measure committed OCTA to spend a minimum of 5% (roughly $243.5 million) on acquisition, restoration, and management. To date, the Authority has purchased seven Preserves and funded 11 restoration projects. One Preserve, the Hayashi Preserve, is located adjacent to and is managed by Chino Hills State Park. Two of the restoration projects for Chino Hills State Park were funded through this mitigation program.
Since 2011, OCTA and the state and federal Wildlife Agencies have been working closely on the creation of a Natural Community Conservation Plan and Habitat Conservation Plan. These Conservation Plans outline the mitigation requirements, conservation goals, management needs, and future funding requirements for the Preserves and restoration sites. The Environmental Oversight Committee, which oversees the mitigation program unanimously recommended approval of the Conservation Plans in early November. The OCTA Highways Committee also recommended approval. Today, the OCTA Board of Directors voted to approve the Conservation Plan and its environmental documents as well. This is a major milestone in an 11 year effort. Congratulations to OCTA, to the Wildlife Agencies, and the conservation community.
Since the commitment for a minimum of five percent has not yet been met, future acquisition, restoration, and management dollars will be spent, likely after much of the promised non-wasting endowment is created by the Authority. The measure and mitigation program ends in 2041–we are in it for the long haul.