Nelson: Make Your Voice Heard for Nature on Banning Ranch

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As we all know, there is little open space, wild lands or farms remaining where we live, and that’s why what still exists needs to be left as is and treasured.

The plain fact is that we have taken enough of these local places for our economic benefit. It is time to create more urban wilds for the many benefits they provide, including our physical health through exercise, mental health through separation from modern stress and the simple connection to sources of beauty and wildlife.Egrets hunting on Banning Ranch

We treasure our national parks, forests and deserts beyond any economic measure. The problem is they are far away, leaving us and our children with few opportunities to experience the fundamental realities of nature.

Burrowing Owls, Herons, Vultures and CoyotesTo be more than a museum display, nature needs the space to function on a larger scale.  Located at the mouth of the Santa Ana River, at over 400 acres, Banning has the right mix of landforms and diversity in grasslands, arroyos, vernal pools, marshlands and bluffs.  A large complex of rare vernal pools is on Banning

This is as good as it gets for a potential nature preserve.

So much has been given to development and economic usage, yet developers are still asking for compromise to put 895 condos on this wild land. Compromise surrounds Banning Ranch on all sides, which is why none should be allowed by the Coastal Commission. Leaving Banning Ranch a whole and intact ecosystem is by far the most important priority. Fragmentation with unneeded housing will greatly weaken the experience for people and impact the sustainability of its many species, as science shows.

Objections to the Banning Ranch development are strong:

Banning Ranch developer allowed environmental degradation to site 

Battle at Banning Ranch: Project reflects activists’ fears, coastal panel’s frustrations

Battle lines form as developer eyes last big coastal lot 

Coastal Commission chairman answers Banning Ranch disclosure questions

Banning Ranch development foes protest at Land Trust event

State panel recommends denial of plan to develop Banning Ranch near Newport Beach

Coastal Commissioners can deny this shortsighted proposal by the NBR group. Behind this proposal, the corporate pyramid includes Shell and Exxon and their local organization, Aera Energy.  Developers has have intensively mowed to hide habitatThese supposedly responsible companies have acted recklessly with a rare resource that is perfect, and would make a significant new coastal nature preserve, not another development.

You can weigh in by writing a letter or comment to the California Coastal Commission,  200 Oceangate, Long Beach CA 90802.  Reference Issue: CDP Application 5-15-2097 – Banning Ranch.  An email can also be sent to BanningRanchComments@coastal.ca.gov

You can also attend and speak at the Coastal Commission hearing on Sept 7th at the Newport Beach Civic Center on PCH and MacArthur.

Comments that are personal, short and to-the-point are best.

Here are a few subject ideas:

Long Term Water Shortage

The more building we do, the more water we are committed to supply, but because of climate change, snowmelt losses will continue to lessen Colorado River and Sierra Nevada supplies, not to mention ongoing groundwater issues.

We’ve Got A Pretty Big Nature Shortage

Our crowded roads and cities are clearly built out, leaving few options for people of the future. So when is enough going to be enough?

The Coastal Act is strong on protection for wild lands.

The agency calls native habitat ESHA (environmentally sensitive habitat area), and the area is full of it so you can encourage them to protect every square foot of Banning.

New oil facilities are part of the development, directly next to marshlands.

In an amazing display of chutzpah, the developers want 83 new wells drilled right next to the one area they are donating to the public, ruining the supposed gift.

Developers have intentionally mowed and damaged the habitat.

For years Banning has been scraped and mowed without mercy in an effort to hide the truth of its biological value from agencies. Violations were successful, but penalties were weak and we can still encourage Commissioners to do some payback for the attempted con-job.

Short term vs long term planning.

An overriding fact in our era is that we must achieve balance with nature over the short-term actions and thinking of financial gain. Comments that appeal for longer term planning would help.

If developed Banning Ranch will first be ripped apart.

Because it is an old oil field, the site will need to be torn apart to be remediated for housing, annihilating the ecosystem and driving animals away. If left as a nature preserve, the destruction of the site is not needed because nature is doing the cleanup.

Traffic.

You know this one well enough, I’m sure.

When saved, Banning Ranch would quickly become a reflection of our wisdom and a gesture of responsibility to future generations. Let’s tell the Coastal Commission to help us make this happen.

Hope to see you on  September 7th, 9am, Newport Beach Civic Center (Pacific Coast Highway and MacArthur).

Kevin Nelson founded the Nature Commission, Kevin@NatureCommission.org

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org