Commentary: One day you may thank an environmentalist for saving open space

Thank an environmentalist.

Everyone loves open space, especially in this modern world. We all need places where we can get away from the noise of cars and people and hear only the wind and birds. Somewhere we can walk alone and leave ourselves behind.

Nobody laments open space. No one ever went to Yosemite or to the Grand Canyon and came home sorry that they didn't see more tract homes or shopping malls.

Open space doesn't happen by accident. Behind every open-space success story, there is a group of dedicated environmentalists.

Thank an environmentalist.

We are dedicated community members who volunteer our time attending meetings and hearings. We work hard to raise money for our efforts. Nobody pays us. We press on because it's the right thing to do. We work to leave a legacy, not just for our generation, but for future generations. We don't give up, even when our goals seem far away.

Thank an environmentalist.

We fight the good fight, although most of our efforts are parallel to David and Goliath.

Banning Ranch is such an effort. The owner-developer has deep pockets. It has hired consultants, attorneys, engineers and lobbyists. It has even created and funded its own "environmental" Land Trust to promote the project.

But ask yourself this question: "Do I want a Banning Ranch with 1,375 homes, a hotel and a commercial center, with traffic, noise, dust, pollution, crowds and destruction of significant wildlife habitat, or do I want a Banning Ranch that is 100% open space, cleaned up, restored and open to the public?"

The Banning Ranch Conservancy has a plan for the second option, but it will take time, money and lots of work.

Time: Anything worthwhile is worth waiting for.

Money: the Orange County Transportation Authority will be spending millions on open space property acquisitions in the coming years. Let's make sure some of that money comes to Banning Ranch. And don't forget there is immense wealth in the Newport Beach area.

Lots of work: That's where you come in! Contact the Banning Ranch Conservancy. Believe me, at this stage there is more work than we can do ourselves. Please step up and find out how you can help. We also need donations.

You can contact us at http://www.bannningranchconservancy.org or call (714) 719-2148 or email info@banningranchconservancy.org or visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/BanningRanchConservancy?fref=ts

Banning Ranch will be saved! It will be the jewel of the future Orange Coast River Park and the pride of our community.

And for that, you can thank an environmentalist.

TERRY WELSH is the president of the Banning Ranch Conservancy.

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