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Environment : Notes about your surroundings.

NEW PROGRAM: Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve marks its inclusion in the new California Wildlands Program on Saturday with talks and tours from 9 to 10:15 a.m. Other programs are planned for weekends through April.

The program encourages state residents and tourists to take part in a low-cost wildlife viewing program, with proceeds dedicated to the support and maintenance of 400,000 acres of wildlife habitat managed by the state Department of Fish and Game. In its first 18 months, the program is expected to generate about $5 million in new support for wildlife habitat.

At Upper Newport Bay, new informational signs have been installed and a nature center is planned. The state program is designed to attract animal lovers, bird-watchers, hikers and wildlife photographers--outdoor recreationists not engaged in hunting or fishing during their visits--to any of nine participating wildlife areas or ecological reserves throughout the state.

The program institutes fees--$10 for an annual pass good at any of nine sites, or a day-use fee of $2 per person--but because access to Upper Newport Bay is difficult to control, there will be no entrance fee there. A $2 fee will be charged for some programs.

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Saturday’s activities will take place at the corner of Eastbluff and Back Bay drives. For information, call (714) 640-6746. CLEANUP: The county chapter of the American Cetacean Society is seeking volunteers to help in a beach cleanup Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Crystal Cove State Park. Parking is free at Reef Pointe. Gardening gloves are recommended. Lunch will be provided. The park is north of Laguna Beach on Coast Highway. For information, call (714) 651-1825 or (714) 551-0584. WETLANDS: Terri Graham, a naturalist and docent at Bolsa Chica State Beach, will give a talk and slide show on preserving wetlands Saturday at a meeting of the Caspers Wilderness Park Volunteer Naturalists. The 10:30 a.m. program is free and open to the public, but a $2 park entry fee is required. Caspers Park is at 33401 Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano.


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