Letter to the Editor: Farm Ban Completes Public Land Acquisition

A view of the Banning Ranch property in Newport Beach. Photo by Christopher Trella ©

In a moment of triumph, a goal that has taken decades to pay off, Coastal Conservancy darling Banning Ranch secured $11.5 million from Coastal Conservancy last week to complete its acquisition as a public land.

It took the custodians many years to first get Coast Commission approval and then the $97 million necessary to buy the site second.

When she retired in 2008, the Banning Ranch Conservancy became the first charitable group to donate time and effort.

I was drawn into the cause after attending a presentation by Susan Forster and Dorothy Krause, and thus met President Terry Welch, and impressed all of me with their knowledge of the prized attributes of Banning Ranch and their enthusiasm for maintaining it as the largest remaining private coastal strip between Ventura County and the US/Mexico border.

Many local citizens from the coastal area volunteered to make this dream come true. They were particularly inspired by the background story of how in 1999 Terry Welch and his partner founded the Sierra Club team that focused solely on the future of the Banning Ranch.

Through Terry’s influence and tenacity, he was able to create the independent non-profit Banning Ranch Conservancy in 2008. Interesting dramas include institutions and personalities such as the Coastal Commission and commissioners, famous newspaper reporter Steve Lopez, the city of Newport Beach, and the California Supreme Court that eventually led to Banning Ranch won approval to move forward as an independent entity.

At this point, all you needed was to have the funds to purchase the site. The rest is now history.

A view of the Banning Ranch property in Newport Beach. Photo by Christopher Trella ©

The goal of the Banning Ranch Conservancy is to renovate and repair coastal resources damaged by decades of oil production to prepare for use as a public space. Ultimately it will provide access opportunities such as trails and low-impact overnight accommodations.

Several local political figures have been involved in helping the Banning Ranch Conservancy achieve its goals: Katrina Foley, Orange County Supervisor, Costa Mesa Council members Arles Reynolds, Manuel Chavez, Guillermo Rodriques (Director of the California Public Lands Trust) and Assemblywoman Coti Petri-Norris.

It would be a mistake not to mention the generous $50 million gift Newport Beach philanthropist Frank and Joan Randall donated in 2019 to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, which helped secure an exclusive agreement with Banning Ranch owners for the takeover. .

Lynn Laurens / Newport Beach

Banning Ranch / Photo by Christopher Trella

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