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DeWitt Habitat Restoration Project benefits from private donations

The city accepted a couple of donations to assist with the DeWitt Habitat Restoration project.
The city recently accepted a couple of donations to assist with the DeWitt Habitat Restoration project on the five-acre property in Laguna Canyon. A trail adjacent to Laguna Canyon Road is shown above.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Overseers of the Laguna Canyon Creek restoration project gave an update on their progress this week. The updates came as the Laguna Beach City Council voted to accept private donations in support of the DeWitt Habitat Restoration Project on Tuesday.

The Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation contributed $2,800 toward the restorative efforts, and Laguna Greenbelt also donated $2,200.

“One of the things that is so meaningful about the restoration of Laguna Canyon Creek is the fact that it was such a collaborative partnership between many different entities,” Hallie Jones, executive director of Laguna Canyon Foundation, said in a phone interview on Thursday. “This $5,000 donation is evidence of that.”

Interpretive signage has been added as part of the DeWitt Habitat Restoration project on the five-acre property.
Interpretive signage has been added as part of the DeWitt Habitat Restoration project on the five-acre property in Laguna Canyon.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The organizations involved with the habitat restoration have included Laguna Beach’s water quality department, which secured a $500,000 grant from the California Natural Resources Agency via the River Parkways grant program. The city has also contributed funding in the amount of $125,000.

“Their connection to this property is around Laguna Canyon Creek, which is one of the last soft-bottomed creeks left in the city of Laguna Beach,” Jones said. “Obviously, what ends up flowing into that creek ends up flowing into the ocean, so the Department of Water Quality has a real interest in preserving and protecting Laguna Canyon Creek.”

Bob Borthwick of BGB Design Group, a Costa Mesa-based landscape architectural firm, provided a presentation that demonstrated the improvements made to the property.

A wildflower meadow has been installed. It is not currently in bloom, but the soil has been seeded and should be flush with wildflowers in the springtime.

Laguna Canyon Creek is a soft-bottomed creek. The creek is shown clear of overgrowth above.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Interpretive signage was also installed between the contiguous projects known as the Laguna Canyon Creek restoration and the Michael and Tricia Berns Canyon Preserve.

The signs provide educational elements for those walking along the paths surrounding the DeWitt property habitat, which spans roughly five acres between the Sun Valley neighborhood and El Toro Road.

The panels provide a history of the area and inform the visitor of how the vegetation and wildlife on site work together to create a fully functioning habitat. To that end, new trees have been planted, and they are encased in cones that protect the seedlings from rabbits and other rodents to give them a chance to grow.

A path on the DeWitt property in the Laguna Canyon.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Jones said remedial planting and weed management are part of regular maintenance.

Additionally, a physical barrier was put up along the street-facing portion of the property.

“If you remember, the edge of Laguna Canyon Road in this section had a lot of illegal dumping that was done over the last few decades by contractors, and so we ended up removing tons and tons of junk and debris,” Borthwick said. “One of the first things we did after the debris removal was to install a fence that will be a permanent fence along the length of the project because we felt this would give … a visual identity [to the project], as you drove along the canyon.”

A trail with a new fence is shown adjacent to Laguna Canyon Road above.
The city recently accepted a couple of donations to assist with the DeWitt Habitat Restoration project on the five-acre property in Laguna Canyon. A trail with a new fence is shown adjacent to Laguna Canyon Road above.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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