Point is picture perfect

Even with a marine layer, a gorgeous view beats a Monday morning at the office any day. Crystal Cove State Park's celebration of the area's designation as a State and National Landmark on June 28 provides the ideal excuse to start the week with fresh air and an ocean breeze.

The dedication of a new overlook, Reef Point, will be commemorated on Monday with a ribbon cutting ceremony and an opportunity for visitors to partake in a guided hike with park naturalists, take pictures and speak with those involved in earning the unique designation for Crystal Cove.

"Reef Point has a spectacular view of the Moro Cove area and overlooks one of the prettiest points of California coastline," said Michael O'Connell, executive director of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy and one of the key players in planning the Reef Point overlook.

Thanks to collaboration between the state park staff and the conservancy, Crystal Cove is part of the new, larger 40,000 acre natural landmark made up of land that was once part of the Irvine Ranch.

The area earned both National Landmark and State Park statuses after a lengthy scientific evaluation based on the ecology, biology and geology of the environment; the 2,791 acres that make up Crystal Cove helped secure the designation.

Todd Lewis, the park's new superintendent, predicts that Reef Point will be a special and popular outlook for the 1.5 million yearly visitors.

"It shows a new stretch of pristine and gorgeous coastline that the public did not previously have access to," he said.

Unfortunately, Crystal Cove must still operate within its state park budget even with the National Landmark designation, providing some challenges during this state budget crisis.

"These times show why it is important to cultivate relationships with organizations like the Irvine Ranch Conservancy to help complete projects and augment our own services," said Lewis. "Even in a year where our budget hasn't been cut further, we will need these partnerships to accomplish the above-and-beyond projects and take big steps, like this overlook."

The Irvine Ranch Conservancy helped Lewis and Crystal Cove design and put together the outlook.

"The Irvine Ranch Conservancy has partners all over the landscape and we help them at being successful at taking care of their land and the cove area is one of the most special places on what was the Irvine Ranch property," said O'Connell.

In addition to the breathtaking view, Reef Point will also feature the state park and national landmark designation plaques, as well as an interpretive panel to complete the overlook's educational exhibit.

Visitors on Monday morning will have the opportunity to meet Michael Obermeyer, who was commissioned to create the interpretive panel at Reef Point. His painting, which honors the Crystal Cove of the past that was untouched by development, will also be on display during the ceremony.

The dedication ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Monday. Free guided hikes with park naturalists, refreshments and photo opportunities are included and park fees at Reef Point will be waived for the event from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

The park is located off Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. Reef Point is north of the El Moro Visitor Center and south of the Historic District. More information about the event can be found by visiting both the Irvine Ranch or State Park websites.

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