Fate of Banning Ranch Hangs in the Balance

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—After decades of work by environmental organizations, community members, and private donors, the 401-acre Banning Ranch, a stretch of land that parallels Pacific Coast Highway from the mouth of the Santa Ana River and back into the city of Newport Beach, is moving nearer to becoming a permanent public open space. However, $39 million in funds is needed by April 2022 in order to purchase and remediate the land, create a public park, and establish a nature preserve. The former oil field—still sprinkled with tarry derricks and surrounded by chain-link fence—is nestled between Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and Huntington Beach. It’s the largest private open space along the Southern California coast. Thanks to a recent $8 million grant from California State Fish and Wildlife Department, as well as a $50 million private donation, the Banning Ranch Conservancy and Trust for Public Land are closer to meeting an agreement made …

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